Nursing workforce policy and the economic crisis: a global overview

J Nurs Scholarsh. 2013 Sep;45(3):298-307. doi: 10.1111/jnu.12028. Epub 2013 May 8.


Purpose: To assess the impact of the global financial crisis on the nursing workforce and identify appropriate policy responses.

Organizing construct and methods: This article draws from international data sources (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] and World Health Organization), from national data sources (nursing regulatory authorities), and the literature to provide a context in which to examine trends in labor market and health spending indicators, nurse employment, and nurse migration patterns.

Findings: A variable impact of the crisis at the country level was shown by different changes in unemployment rates and funding of the health sector. Some evidence was obtained of reductions in nurse staffing in a small number of countries. A significant and variable change in the patterns of nurse migration also was observed.

Conclusions: The crisis has had a variable impact; nursing shortages are likely to reappear in some OECD countries. Policy responses will have to take account of the changed economic reality in many countries.

Clinical relevance: This article highlights key trends and issues for the global nursing workforce; it then identifies policy interventions appropriate to the new economic realities in many OECD countries.

Keywords: Nursing workforce; labour markets; migration; workforce policy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Economic Recession*
  • Emigration and Immigration / statistics & numerical data
  • Employment / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services / economics
  • Humans
  • Internationality*
  • Nurses / supply & distribution*
  • Public Policy*