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Scandinavian long-term care financing


  • Karlsson, Martin

    () (Technische Universität Darmstadt)

  • Iversen, Tor

    () (Institute of Health Management and Health Economics)

  • Øien, Henning

    () (Institute of Health Management and Health Economics)


In this paper, we compare and analyse the systems for financing long-term care for older people in the Scandinavian countries – Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The three countries share common political traditions of local autonomy and universalism, and these common roots are very apparent when the financing of long-term care is concerned. Nevertheless, the Scandinavian systems for long- term care (LTC) exhibit some important deviations from the idealized “universal welfare state” to which these countries are normally ascribed. For example, user charges tend to be strongly dependent on earnings, which is incoherent with the general norm of flat-rate public services. Also, there is significant regional variation in the level of services provided, which is in direct contrast with the universalist ambitions. Overall, the Scandinavian countries distinguish themselves through their very high reliance on public spending in long-term care. It is unclear to what extent the Scandinavian model for financing of long term care will be sustainable as demographic change progresses in the next few decades.

Suggested Citation

  • Karlsson, Martin & Iversen, Tor & Øien, Henning, 2010. "Scandinavian long-term care financing," HERO On line Working Paper Series 2010:2, Oslo University, Health Economics Research Programme.
  • Handle: RePEc:hhs:oslohe:2010_002

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    Cited by:

    1. Joan Costa‐Font & Martin Karlsson & Henning Øien, 2016. "Careful in the Crisis? Determinants of Older People's Informal Care Receipt in Crisis‐Struck European Countries," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25, pages 25-42, November.
    2. Joan Costa-Font & Martin Karlsson & Henning Øien, 2015. "Informal Care and the Great Recession," CINCH Working Paper Series 1502, Universitaet Duisburg-Essen, Competent in Competition and Health, revised Feb 2015.
    3. Martin Karlsson & Florian Klohn, 2014. "Testing the red herring hypothesis on an aggregated level: ageing, time-to-death and care costs for older people in Sweden," The European Journal of Health Economics, Springer;Deutsche Gesellschaft für Gesundheitsökonomie (DGGÖ), vol. 15(5), pages 533-551, June.

    More about this item


    long term care; financing; welfare state; Scandinavia;

    JEL classification:

    • H42 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Private Goods
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • I11 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Analysis of Health Care Markets
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • J14 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of the Elderly; Economics of the Handicapped; Non-Labor Market Discrimination

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