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01.12.2014 | Original Paper | Ausgabe 9/2014 Open Access

The European Journal of Health Economics 9/2014

The impact of ageing on health care expenditures: a study of steepening

The European Journal of Health Economics > Ausgabe 9/2014
Fredrik Alexander Gregersen


Some researchers claim that health care expenditures for older people are growing faster than for the rest of the population. This process is referred to as steepening. The aim of this paper is to test steepening, applying new data and revised methods. Furthermore, we explain the connection between the terms red herring hypothesis, i.e., that time to death and not age per se drives the health care expenditures, and steepening. We also present the mechanisms that may induce steepening, as presented in the literature. When testing steepening, we apply data from all inpatient stays in somatic hospitals in Norway in the period 1998–2009, i.e., the data has no self-selection and covers the entire population of Norway (5 million). Our analysis does not reject steepening, with the exception of the 0-year-olds. The results also hold when controlling for mortality-related expenditures. Furthermore, we observe an increase in expenditures for the 0-year-olds. Finally, we find increasing mortality-related expenditures over time. We find the link between steepening and the red herring hypothesis to be vague, and we find steepening and the red herring hypothesis to be independent.

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