In recent decades, European societies have experienced a significant ageing process, driven mostly by rising life expectancies and rather low fertility levels. Research results indicate that, at the individual level, healthy life expectancy is increasing faster than life expectancy, which implies that the average period an individual will need long-term care over his lifetime is shrinking (Christensen et al. 2008).

At the macro level, however, due to the overall ageing process, the share of the population who will need long-term care at older ages is increasing. At the same time, because the average family size has been shrinking, the share of elderly people who can rely on family care is decreasing. This has fostered the development of the field of long-term care policies for the elderly. The services provided might include, for example, rehabilitation, basic medical treatment, home nursing, and the provision of meals; and these services might be offered in the form of institutional, residential, or home care.

This collection identifies comparable norms for policies over time, with a focus on the following field:

It is important to note, however, that our focus is on more far-reaching reforms. Information on smaller policy modifications, such as slight changes to benefits, may not be found in this collection.

Find more about the health policies in:


Christensen, K., McGue, M., Petersen, I., Jeune, B. and Vaupel, J.W. (2008). Exceptional longevity does not result in excessive levels of disability. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America 105 (36): 13274–13279.

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