Public expenditures related to welfare are expected to eventually exceed revenues. So, what might the public commitment look like with regard to health care and elderly care in the future? And how is it to be financed? What will be the significance of the corona crisis for the organization and working methods in these areas? Project timeframe 2021–2024.


Research director: Anna Norén,, 0722-51 36 81
Project manager: Simon Torell Witt,, 0766-97 69 88

Public expenditure related to health care and elderly care is rapidly increasing

An aging population will lead to a significantly increased need for health care and elderly care in the coming years. These two areas combined form a substantial part of the public commitment, while the growing need will over time represent an increasing burden on public finances. At the same time, the rapid urbanization process we are currently experiencing reinforces existing differences between urban regions and sparsely populated and rural areas. The ability to meet this growing need will thus vary considerably between different parts of Sweden. Technological developments have great potential in terms of increasing productivity in the health care and elderly care sectors. In practice, however, this often means increased costs.

Revenues for the welfare system increase at a slower rate

The welfare system is largely financed jointly by means of taxes, while also including elements of payroll taxation. As the working-age proportion of the population is expected to decrease, there is a risk that the welfare system will eventually be underfunded. The increasing demand for welfare services means that a growing share of production in the economy takes place in the public sector, where productivity growth is often slower compared to the private sector.

upcoming seminars

2024.03.12 Can prevention ease the burden of financing health care?

2024.03.19 Does it matter for patients which primary care physician they receive?

completed seminars

Who should pay for the elderly care? 2023.10.24

Can digitalization solve the problems facing Swedish health care and elderly care? 2023.05.26

The future of Swedish elderly care 2022.09.20

What can Sweden do to combat antibiotic resistance? 2022.06.08

Post-pandemic: Lessons learned for Swedish health care 2022.04.20

High costs and limited patient benefits – on evaluating interventions in health care 2022.03.29

Dialogue meeting on a new elderly care law 2021.12.02

The Inquiry on Voluntary Private Health Insurance 2021.11.12

Health care on equal terms? 2021.09.02

The supply of general practitioners 2021.06.14

Shared Data between Health Care and Care Services 2021.02.18

Special day on the topic of health care 2020.08.18


Responsibility for care of elderly relatives 2023.10.23

Digitalization of Swedish health care 2023.05.26

Coordinating care of the multimorbid elderly in Sweden – lessons learned from practice and research 2023.04.17

Covid-19 in nursing homes as experienced by employees 2023.04.12

Reliable Control and Organization of Welfare 2023.03.06

Measuring the Value of Elderly Care 2022.10.24

High costs and limited patient benefits – on evaluating interventions in health care 2022.03.28

What explains regional differences in Swedish healthcare 2021.09.02

Ongoing studies

Digitalizing health care: Risks and opportunities from a Swedish systems perspective

The introduction of various novel digital technologies has been presented as a solution to some of the challenges facing health care. The report aims to analyze, on the basis of economic theory and existing empirical evidence, the ability of digital technologies to contribute to Swedish health care developing in a positive direction with regard to efficiency and equality. Which economic benefits, costs and uncertainties may arise as a result of introducing digital technologies in health care and elderly care? How are benefits and risks distributed among different actors (patient – health care provider – funding body), and, furthermore, how may this affect the conditions for and effects of digitalization? The report analyzes the empirical evidence indicating that digital care models represent cost-effective alternatives to existing models, while also discussing the relevance of this evidence in a Swedish context.

Authors: Björn Ekman, associate professor of health economics, Lund University, and Lina Maria Ellegård, researcher in economics, Lund University.

To be published: spring 2023.

Unpaid care work performed by Swedish middle-aged men and women

There is extensive research on how being a parent and caring for (young) children affect the economic outcomes of men and women in present-day Sweden. However, caring for others is not limited to raising a family but occurs later in life as well, not least for women. The report focuses on how being responsible for caring for aging parents affects the ability to work, leisure, sleep and health of men and women aged fifty and above. Questions addressed include: How are incomes and the utilization of time affected by being responsible for caring for an elderly relative? Does this affect women more than men? And what do these relationships look like in countries characterized by other models of family care and a different perspective on gender equality?

Author: Maria Stanfors, professor of economic history, Lund University

To be published: autumn 2023.

Financing future health care and elderly care – the importance of prevention

A higher proportion of elderly individuals in a growing population means that health care needs have increased both overall and on average, thus causing resource allocation problems. A partially overlooked way of alleviating this problem involves avoiding future health care needs by means of various preventative measures. The objective of this report is to compile available scientific evidence regarding the effects and cost-effectiveness of primary preventive measures and to analyze the significance of such measures in a Swedish context. The study is limited to initiatives that offer the greatest effect according to the scientific literature, both in terms of health when fully implemented and in terms of cost-effectiveness.

Author: Kristian Bolin, professor of health economics, University of Gothenburg.

To be published: spring 2024.

Funding and reference group

The reference group includes Astra Zeneca, Attendo, Getinge, Hemfrid, Insurance Sweden, Kry, Min Doktor, Pfizer, Praktikertjänst, Region Halland, Region Stockholm, Region Västra Götaland, Skandia, Skellefteå Municipality, Swedish Agency for Health and Care Services Analysis, Swedish Association of Health Professionals, Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, Swedish Health and Social Care Inspectorate, Swedish Medical Association, Swedish Ministry of Finance, Swedish Municipal Workers’ Union, Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare, Täby Municipality, Vardaga and Vinnova.