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Health Workforce Demographics: An Overview

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This chapter presents data on the health workforces in OECD countries, including cross‐country variation, past trends, and projections over the next 20 years. On average, there has been a prolonged growth in physician and nurse density in OECD countries over the past 30 years but the growth rates have slowed sharply since the early 1990s. Cost containment policies, such as control of entry into medical school in the case of doctors, and closure of hospital beds in the case of nurses, may explain much of the slowdown. By 2000, several OECD countries were reporting shortages of doctors and nurses and some countries published projections of the supply and demand for doctors suggesting that as a result of the anticipated retirement of health workers and increasing demand for their services, shortages would increase unless training rates were raised. Meanwhile, UN population projections suggest that between 2005 and 2025, younger age cohorts in the population will shrink in many OECD countries.

Document Type: Review Article

Publication date: 2008-09-01

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