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Public Health (07-04-2005)

Healthy Life Years Indicator to be Used in Measuring EU Competitiveness

Healthy Life Years (also called disability-free life expectancy) has become a new structural indicator for the Lisbon Strategy. This is in recognition of the importance of health for the economic and social development of the EU. The indicator measures the number of remaining years that a person of a certain age is still supposed to live without disability, and switches the emphasis from length of life to quality of life. In measuring the number of years of life free from activity limitation, the Healthy Life Years indicator can be used to monitor health as a productivity/economic factor.

Increasing citizens’ Healthy Life Years must be a key health goal for the EU. It would have a positive impact on overall productivity, labour costs, labour shortages, healthcare costs and public finances. The indicator is therefore of fundamental importance in measuring economic competitiveness, as well as social wellbeing. Estimates of the years that individuals can expect to spend in healthy and unhealthy states can also be valuable for estimating the demand for health services and long-term care needs of the whole, especially considering the shift in the demographic profile to an older EU population.

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