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: Gabriella Chirico Willstedt,, 0722-43 41 08
Project manager: Adrian Ekström,, 0722-51 36 81

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.

completed seminars

February 18, 2021 Shared Data between Health Care and Care Services

Ongoing studies


There are significant differences between the 21 regions in Sweden in terms of the use of and costs for health care. Based on the goal of having health care on equal terms, regional variation in health care is not a problem in itself if this variation reflects differences related to health and the need for health care. However, such variation is not desirable if it is the result of, for instance, a skewed or inefficient distribution or use of resources. Studies have shown that it is difficult to clearly determine which factors cause regional variation in health care. This report describes regional differences in relation to different categories of health care and how this variation has developed over time. It also presents and discusses existing empirical findings regarding the factors causing regional variation in health care.

Author: Naimi Johansson, health economist at the University Health Care Research Center in Region Örebro.

To be published: fall 2021.


In Sweden, we spend approximately 11 percent of our GDP on health care, which is a higher figure compared to our Nordic neighbors as well as the European average. The current demographic trend concerning an aging population as well as developments in medical technology in the form of many new and expensive innovations also mean that costs are likely to continue to increase at a rapid pace. In order to manage the long-term financing of health care, reforms and measures will be required in a number of different areas. This report focuses on how we can ensure that what is offered in health care actually provides sufficient patient value at a reasonable level of cost-effectiveness. It not only discusses processes for introducing new treatments and methods but also how we are to eliminate existing treatments that fail to offer reasonable patient value for the money spent.

Author: Mikael Svensson, professor of applied health economics at Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg.

To be published: spring 2022.

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.