This paper studies the relationship between health care expenditure (HCE) and age, using longitudinal rather than cross-sectional data. The econometric analysis of HCE in the last eight quarters of life of individuals who died during the period 1983-1992 indicates that HCE depends on remaining lifetime but not on calendar age, at least beyond 65+. The positive relationship between age and HCE observed in cross-sectional data may be caused by the simple fact that at age 80, for example, there are many more individuals living in their last 2 years than at age 65. The limited impact of age on HCE suggests that population ageing may contribute much less to future growth of the health care sector than claimed by most observers.
Copyright 1999 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.