How Does Ireland’s Health Compare with OECD Countries

The 2013 Edition of Health at a Glance-OECD Indicators presents the most recent comparable data on key indicators of health and health systems across the 34 OECD member countries. The data mainly refers to 2011.


How Does Ireland Compare on Key Measures?


The structure of the population has a big influence on health status and spending as older people typically require more health care.

Ireland’s population is relatively young

  • Population Over 65: Ireland 11%; OECD average 15%
  • Population Over 80: Ireland 3%; OECD average 4%

Life Expectancy

Life expectancy at birth has increased in recent decades in all OECD countries by about 10 years since 1970.

Latest figures for Ireland 80.6 years; OECD average 80.1 years

Perceived Health Status

Indicators of perceived general health have been found to be a good predictor of people’s future health care use and mortality.

On this measure of self-reported good health, Ireland has the healthiest population in Europe and surprisingly the second healthiest population in Europe over 65.

  • Self- Reported Good Health; Ireland 83.4 % (Best in Europe); OECD average 69 %
  • Self-Reported Good Health Over 65; Ireland 63.9% OECD Average 42.7 (We are no 2 in Europe behind Switzerland).

However, there are some causes for concern

  • Adult Obesity: Ireland 23 % ; OECD average 17.6 %
  • Alcohol Consumption by Adults : Ireland 11.6 litres per adult (6th Highest in OECD). OECD average 9.4 litres
  •  % of Adult Population Smoking Daily: Ireland 29.0% (4th worst in OECD); OCED average 20.9 %

 Generic Share of Drugs Market

Ireland still has a low share of generic supply of prescription drugs which increases costs.

  • Ireland 9% (by value): OECD average 19% (by value)
  • Ireland 18 %(by volume); OECD average 41% (by volume).

Health Spending

Total Health spending (public & private) per head in US$ ppp

  • Ireland $3,700 (no 14 out of 34 countries); OECD average $3,322
  • Drug spending Ireland $648; OECD average $ 483.

Other Data

Average Length of Stay In Hospital: Ireland 6.3 (down from 7.4 in 2000); OECD average 6.7

Doctor Consultations per head of population: Ireland 3.8 OECD average 6.7

Old Age Health Spending

The potential impact of an ageing population on health spending is illustrated by data from a small number of countries on hospital inpatient expenditure for those aged 65 and over. This suggests that the share of spending on this age group is on average 3 times their share of the population.

Hospital Inpatient Expenditure on Over 65’s

Exp Pop ShareRatio-page-001







See OECD: Health at a Glance 2015

Image Credit: RXB on Flickr.

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