The causal impact of social care, public health and healthcare expenditure on mortality in England: cross-sectional evidence for 2013/14

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OBJECTIVES: The first objective is to estimate the joint impact of social care, public health and healthcare expenditure on mortality in England. The second objective is to use these results to estimate the impact of spending constraints in 2010/2011-2014/2015 on total mortality.

METHODS: The impact of social care, healthcare and public health expenditure on mortality is analysed by applying the two-stage least squares method to local authority data for 2013/2014. Next, we compare the growth in healthcare and social care expenditure pre-2010 and post-2010. We use the difference between these growth rates and the responsiveness of mortality to changes in expenditure taken from the 2013/2014 cross-sectional analysis to estimate the additional mortality generated by post-2010 spending constraints.

RESULTS: Our most conservative results suggest that (1) a 1% increase in healthcare expenditure reduces mortality by 0.532%; (2) a 1% increase in social care expenditure reduces mortality by 0.336%; and (3) a 1% increase in local public health spending reduces mortality by 0.019%. Using the first two of these elasticities and data on the change in spending growth between 2001/2002-2009/2010 and 2010/2011-2014/2015, we find that there were 57 550 (CI 3075 to 111 955) more deaths in the latter period than would have been observed had spending growth during this period matched that in 2001/2002-2009/2010.

CONCLUSIONS: All three forms of public healthcare-related expenditure save lives and there is evidence that additional social care expenditure is more than twice as productive as additional healthcare expenditure. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that the slowdown in the rate of improvement in life expectancy in England and Wales since 2010 is attributable to spending constraints in the healthcare and social care sectors.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere046417
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2021

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