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Health at a Glance: Europe 2016

State of Health in the EU Cycle

image of Health at a Glance: Europe 2016

This fourth edition of Health at a Glance: Europe presents key indicators of health and health systems in the 28 EU countries, 5 candidate countries to the EU and 3 EFTA countries. This 2016 edition contains two main new features: two thematic chapters analyse the links between population health and labour market outcomes, and the important challenge of strengthening primary care systems in European countries; and a new chapter on the resilience, efficiency and sustainability of health systems in Europe, in order to align the content of this publication more closely with the 2014 European Commission Communication on effective, accessible and resilient health systems. This publication is the result of a renewed collaboration between the OECD and the European Commission under the broader "State of Health in the EU" initiative, designed to support EU member states in their evidence-based policy making.

 

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The labour market impacts of ill-health

This chapter looks at the labour market impacts of chronic diseases and related behavioural risk factors, including obesity, smoking, and harmful alcohol consumption. Chronic diseases lead to the premature death of more than 550 000 people aged 25 to 64 each year across EU countries, resulting in the loss of some 3.4 million potential productive life years. Chronic diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, respiratory problems, diabetes, and serious mental health problems also have important labour market impacts for people living with these conditions: reduced employment, earlier retirement, and lower income. Using the latest data from the SHARE survey (Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe), this chapter shows that the employment rate of people aged 50-59 who have one or more chronic diseases is lower than that of people who do not suffer from any disease. The same is true for people who are obese, smokers, or heavy alcohol drinkers. The labour market impacts of mental health problems such as depression are also large: across European countries, people aged 50-59 suffering from severe depression are more than two times more likely to leave the labour market early. The burden of ill‑health on social benefit expenditures is huge: 1.7% of GDP is spent on disability and paid sick leave each year on average in EU countries, more than what is spent on unemployment benefits. Greater efforts are needed to prevent chronic diseases among the working-age population, and better integration is needed between health and labour market policies to reduce the detrimental labour market impacts of ill‑health, and thus contribute to better lives and more inclusive economies.

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