The economic consequences of ill health in Estonia(2006)




The main contribution of the report is to provide a direct quantitative assessment of the economic consequences of ill-health in the specific case of Estonia. The overarching message from the findings is unambiguous: poor adult health negatively affects economic well-being at the individual and household level in Estonia; and, if effective action were taken, improved health could play an important role in sustaining high economic growth rates. More precisely, ill-health has been a significant and sizable factor in workers’ decision to retire from the labour force. Ill-health has also had a significantly negative impact on the probability of participation in the labour market, on the amount of hours worked per week, as well as on the monthly salaries received.

 The second part of this report assesses the macroeconomic benefits that would accrue by reducing adult mortality rates in Estonia according to plausible scenarios. The main conclusion is that these benefits would be substantial for the Estonian economy, despite the significant caution that has to be exercised in evaluating results from growth forecasts by the relatively simple means used for the present purpose.

Evidence-based policy interventions exist that can help overcome the health challenges faced by the country in a cost-effective manner. In addition, the recent Estonian burden of diseases and risk factors analysis offers a solid scientific baseline from which to determine priorities as well as to select the best interventions in Estonia. The report concludes that the most cost-effective measures to reduce the burden would be those oriented at the entire population, e.g. by raising the excise tax rates for alcohol and tobacco, banning alcohol advertising and restricting access to alcohol sales. Within the health sector the continuity of care, including preventive and promotion services, should be improved further.