Danes: Eldercare not a family responsibility

September 23rd, 2013

This article is more than 11 years old.

A new study shows that Danes do not think families should be more responsible for elderly care, though younger Danes are more open to the idea

A large majority of Danes don’t think that families should have to shoulder more of the responsibility of caring for the elderly in the future.

According to the Rambøll/Jyllands-Posten poll, 71 percent of Danes don’t think family members will have to care more for the elderly in the future, while 22 percent think they will.

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Twenty-six percent of men responded that families should assume a greater role caring for the elderly, while only 18 percent of woman responded the same.

And while 35 percent of 18-to-25-year-olds also called on families to take on more responsibility, this share dropped as the respondents got older, with only 18 percent of respondents over age 65 agreeing.

Taxes pay for elderly care
Niels Ploug, the head of social statistics for Danmarks Statistik, said there was good reason that few people supported making families take on more responsibility for caring for the elderly.

“People are responding the way that they are because they see eldercare as a service their taxes pay for,” Ploug told Jyllands-Posten. “Danes broadly accept their relatively high tax burden and one of the reasons is because they think they are getting something for their money. For example that the state will take care of their children and their parents if they need it.”

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With an ageing population, Danish lawmakers have been faced with the dilemma of how to care for an increasing number of elderly while the working-age population shrinks. 

This issue was raised in Jyllands-Posten last week by Professor Kjeld Møller Pedersen from the department of business and economics at the University of Southern Denmark.

Elderly remain a social priority
He argued that political pressure to limit the growth of the public sector will also force Danes to reassess whether the state can afford to continue providing the same level of care, especially with a predicted 30 percent increase in the number of Danes over age 80 in the next decade

Jan Olsen, chief economist with local council lobby group KL, agreed that Denmark’s changing demographics and public opinion about the role of the welfare state mean that the level of eldercare provided by the state in the future may have to change.

“The study confirms that eldercare is and will continue to be a central service in our welfare state. It will be highly prioritised, both by politicians and voters. But the types of services and the extent of care will change character both with the changing level of health of the elderly and their physical abilities change. But there will also be a shift in view about what families can and should take care of.” 


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