The state of health in the EU

Every two years, the OECD prepares an assessment of the state of health in the EU for the European Commission. The latest report has been published and includes statistical indicators for 35 European countries, as well as two cross-cutting chapters on EU political priorities: promoting mental health and reducing inefficient spending. The report shows stalled increase in life expectancy in many EU Member States, marked by persistent and large inequalities in health gains.

Since a steady 2-3 year life expectancy increase between 2001-2011, improvements slowed down to just half a year between 2011-2016. The progress is slower in the Western European countries. People with a low level of education can expect to live six years less than those with a high level of education. “These gaps largely reflect differences in exposure to risk factors, but also indicate disparities in access to care.” In 2017, health spending accounted for 9.6% of GDP in the EU as a whole, up from 8.8% in 2008 but slightly down from the latest estimates of 9.9%. After years of cuts in healthcare budget devoted to prevention (with a post-economic crisis dip 2008-2012), between 2012-2016, an average of 2.5% of total health expenditure was spent on preventive measures. It is still way below the 2004-2008 levels of 4.7%.

Evidence is presented for strengthening prevention and health promotion measures; prioritising effective and people-centered health systems; improving access to health care; and building more resilient health systems.

To read more about this on the European Commission website, go to: