The significance of age and duration of effect in social evaluation of health care

Health Care Anal. 1996 May;4(2):103-11. doi: 10.1007/BF02251210.


To give priority to the young over the elderly has been labelled 'ageism'. People who express 'ageist' preferences may feel that, all else equal, an individual has greater right to enjoy additional life years the fewer life years he or she has already had. We shall refer to this as egalitarian ageism. They may also emphasise the greater expected duration of health benefits in young people that derives from their greater life expectancy. We may call this utilitarian ageism. Both these forms of ageism were observed in an empirical study of social preferences in Australia. The study lends some support to the assumptions in the QALY approach that duration of benefits and hence old age, should count in prioritising at the budget level in health care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors*
  • Aged
  • Australia
  • Data Collection
  • Empirical Research
  • Ethical Theory
  • Health Care Rationing / economics
  • Health Care Rationing / standards*
  • Health Priorities
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Life Expectancy
  • Patient Selection*
  • Prejudice
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years*
  • Resource Allocation*
  • Social Values
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors