Long term care for the elderly and international migration

The International Labor Organization has a benchmark of 4 long term care workers per 100 persons 65 years or older. That implies a standard for the U.S. of 3,250,000 long term care workers. The actual number of long term care worker varies by definition and greatly by county. In any event, the demand for long term care workers in advanced countries will only be met by international migration as the number of aged increases.

PHI estimates that there are 4.6 million direct care workers in the U.S., including 2.4 million home care workers, 675,000 residential care aides, 527,000 nursing assistants in nursing homes, and about 1 million direct care workers employed in other settings. The number of persons over 65 in the U.S. as a percentage of total population is projected to grow from about 16% to 23% in 2060, with the gain largely in non-white populations. (from here).

In OECD countries, keeping the current ratio of long-term care workers to older people would mean increasing the number of workers across the OECD by 13.5 million in the next 18 years– an increase of 60% on average over 2016 levels.

Just a few OECD countries – Canada, Israel and Japan – have implemented targeted labour migration pathways for older persons’ care workers. Australia is also exploring ways to use its general labour migration pathway to attract older persons’ care workers to rural and remote areas of the country.

Formal systems of care: In northern Europe, in countries such a Denmark, the Netherlands, Finland and Sweden, there are high levels of formal, subsidised care and often large care workforces staffing residential institutions and providing home-care services. There are twice as many long term care workers in some Scandinavian countries per hundred elderly than in the United States (10 vs 5 per hundred).

From ODI, here.

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