Health

Summary

Driver description
Interactions within the Social Domain
Interactions with the Economy Domain
Interactions with the Environment Domain
Interactions with the Technology Domain
Impacts on Mobility and Transport

Driver description

  • “The society’s state of health largely depends on health policy and the health system, especially health care resources, access to health care and financing. But health is also related to many other issues such as water supply and sanitation, road safety and safety of workplaces, income and education, air pollution, human settlements, etc.” (Ref: CO_0197)
  • “Improvements in life expectancy demonstrate that there has been progress in promoting a healthier and longer life for EU citizens. Life expectancy at birth for men and women grew by 4 and 3 months per year respectively between 2002 and 2008. It is also apparent that the life expectancy of men is catching up with that of women.” (Ref: CO_0197)
  • “However, this increase in life expectancy usually occurs at the detriment of people’s health or “quality” of life. While the medical advancement is able to save human life from a growing number of diseases, it is not as apt at keeping people in good health, which thus very often means extending the time spent in chronic illness.” (Ref: CO_2050)
  • “While life expectancy constitutes a conventional and solid indicator to reflect general health and health care conditions in different countries, the indicator of healthy life years adds complementary information on the of quality of life.” (Ref: CO_0197)
  • “Healthy life years measures the number of years that a person is still expected to live in a healthy condition. It is compiled separately for males and females, (...) A healthy condition is defined by the absence of limitations in functioning/ disability.” (Ref: CO_0197)
Figure 1‑28 Healthy life years and life expectancy, EU-27, females

Source: Sustainable development in the European Union (Ref: CO_0197)

Figure 1‑29 Healthy life years and life expectancy, EU-27, males

Source: Sustainable development in the European Union (Ref: CO_0197)

  • “Road traffic has become the leading killer of young people worldwide. Almost 1.3 million people die each year on the world’s roads, between 20 and 50 million are severely injured.” (Ref: CO_5019)

Interactions within the Social Domain

Population ageing

  • “The researchers are almost unanimous in stating that life expectancy is constantly increasing over time all over the world due to falling mortality rates in all age cohorts and constantly growing ability of medicine to save people’s life. Both average life expectancy and maximum age are rising over time, increasing the share of elderly and the oldest old in total population.” (Ref: CO_2050)

Car ownership

  • “International evidence suggests that health may continue to improve, but some causes of disability may at the same time become more prominent.” (Ref: CO_2050)

In an ageing population it can be expected that some causes of disability may become more prominent and thus reducing the ability to drive with a consequent impact on future car ownership rates.

Gender roles

  • “Life expectancy at birth is six years higher for women than men, but the gap is closing.” (Ref: CO_0197)
  • “Deaths due to chronic diseases are almost twice as common in the EU for men than for women, but the gap has slowly narrowed between 2000 and 2008 (average annual declines: men 2.3 %, women 1.7 %).” (Ref: CO_0197)

Tourist flows

The same consideration expressed for car ownership applies for tourist flows: it is often mentioned in current literature that future elderly will be more active traveller than their predecessor. Nevertheless it can be considered possible only in case of healthy condition.

Interactions with the Economy Domain

GDP trends

  • “Good health is the foundation of human welfare and productivity and is hence essential for sustainable development. Healthy people represent added value for the economy and the society since they are more productive and can contribute to cohesive ways of living together in the society. Sustainable development cannot be ensured in societies marked by widespread disease.” (Ref: CO_0197)
  • “Two recent economic studies (Muller and Mendelsohn, 2007; World Bank, 2007) estimated the total health costs of selected environmental risk factors in the US and China, respectively. These analyses suggest that health damage associated with air and water pollution represents a significant share of GDP.” (Ref: CO_5009)

Employment

  • “Growing life expectancy reflects improved living conditions in the EU in terms of economic welfare, social security and health care resources. Nevertheless, there are differences between Member States. Some of the Central and Eastern European Member States tend to have shorter life expectancies mostly due to poorer socio-economic conditions in these countries, especially higher unemployment rates.” (Ref: CO_0197)

Regional differences in economics

  • “The proportion of environment-related diseases in non-OECD countries is higher (24%) than in high income OECD countries (14%)[1].” (Ref: CO_5009)

[1] The definition of “environment” used in this WHO (World Health Organisation) survey was quite broad, and includes many risk factors not commonly referred to as “environmental”, such as injuries (e.g. burns, poisoning, falls, etc.), physical inactivity, sexually transmitted diseases, etc.

Availability of public and private resources and investments in the transport sector

  • “Improving environmental conditions upstream, in order to prevent downstream environment-related health outcomes, is often cost-efficient.” (Ref: CO_5009)

Interactions with the Environment Domain

No particularly relevant interrelationships have been found.

Interactions with the Technology Domain

Technology development in general and innovation diffusion

  • “Health-on-the-web encompasses the wide variety of formal and informal online health-related services and activities that have emerged in recent years. (...) Data from Eurostat shows that usage of the Internet by the general population for health related purposes has been growing steadily in Europe over the past number of years.” (Ref: CO_2018)

Impacts on Mobility and Transport

The impact of health on mobility lies in the possibility of individuals to maintain their self-sufficiency in satisfying their mobility needs.  In an ageing population an increase in life expectancy with generally good health condition, but also with reduced personal abilities, can be expected.  This evidence could at first reduce elderly population’s propensity towards the personal transport mode given the reduced ability to drive and in a second stage lead to the reduction of overall personal mobility due to physical diseases.

Private vehicles are increasingly equipped with safety equipments: preventing accidents but also limiting their negative impacts when they occur are most important targets of road-safety policy and one of the major challenges for vehicle manufacturers. The reduction of injured persons and of the entity of personal damages (i.e. permanent or temporary disability) can have considerably benefits on the overall health and social-care expenditures of a country.