Reports 2019/11

Projecting the labour market for personnel in health and care towards 2035

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Statistics Norway has prepared updated and improved projections for demand and supply of different educational groups directed towards health and care. Compared to the former projections published in 2012 the main improvements are made on the demand side by a more thorough discussion regarding the most important explanatory factors.

Demand for important groups of health personnel working in hospitals and local government health and care services is highly dependent on ageing of the Norwegian population. A considerable increase in the number of elderlies towards 2035 is therefore one of the most important factors behind the expected growth in demand for health- and care services. The impact of the other explanatory factors is more uncertain. This is related to what degree health conditions for a given age are improving when life expectancy increases, the share of unpaid care at home, and to what degree the number of man-years per user will continue to increase.

Even if modest assumptions for each of the uncertain factors regarding improvements in health - a constant share of unpaid home care and no increase in standards are fulfilled simultaneously - there will be a significant growth in demand for most groups of health personnel. With more realistic assumptions growth in demand will be stronger. For physicians, nurses, professional health workers for the mentally retired, occupational therapists, medical laboratory therapists, radiographers, dental nurses and psychologists, observed trends shifting demand in favour of these groups is expected to continue. This will also contribute to pull demand for these groups upwards in addition to the effects from demographic development and other factors mentioned above.

However, for many groups of health personnel it is also expected a significant growth in supply of labour. This is the case for professional health workers for social educator, dental nurses, radiographers, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, which have experienced a strong growth in educational capacity the last decades. The number of persons entering the labour market from these groups is therefore much higher than the number retiring. For physicians, nurses and auxiliary nurses an increasing part of the newcomers stems from immigrated persons. With reasonable assumptions on the demand side and a continuation of present educational patterns and immigration, future labour markets are projected to be in balance for physicians, dentists and dental nurses, while supply may exceed demand for psychologists.

Despite knowledge about the arriving ageing of the population for many years, too few nurses are educated. An already observed lack of nurses is expected to be strengthened in the years ahead. The situation is even worsened by increasing lack of auxiliary nurses, professional health workers for mentally retired, occupational therapists, and midwives. There may also be a situation with some excess demand for medical laboratory therapists, radiographers and medical and dental secretaries. For several groups with projected excess demand even a significant growth in education will not be enough to prevent excess demand from arising. Effects from other supply side factors are expected to of smaller importance.

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