European Journal of Ageing

, Volume 12, Issue 1, pp 61–70 | Cite as

Are we living longer but less healthy? Trends in mortality and morbidity in Catalonia (Spain), 1994–2011

  • Aïda Solé-AuróEmail author
  • Manuela Alcañiz
Original Investigation


Evidence on trends in prevalence of disease and disability can clarify whether countries are experiencing a compression or expansion of morbidity. An expansion of morbidity, as indicated by disease, has appeared in Europe and other developed regions. It is likely that better treatment, preventive measures, and increases in education levels have contributed to the declines in mortality and increments in life expectancy. This paper examines whether there has been an expansion of morbidity in Catalonia (Spain). It uses trends in mortality and morbidity and links these with survival to provide estimates of life expectancy with and without diseases and mobility limitations. We use a repeated cross-sectional health survey carried out in 1994 and 2011 for measures of morbidity, and information from the Spanish National Statistics Institute for mortality. Our findings show that at age 65 the percentage of life with disease increased from 52 to 70 % for men, and from 56 to 72 % for women; the expectation of life with mobility limitations increased from 24 to 30 % for men and from 40 to 47 % for women between 1994 and 2011. These changes were attributable to increases in the prevalence of diseases and moderate mobility limitation. Overall, we find an expansion of morbidity along the period. Increasing survival among people with diseases can lead to a higher prevalence of diseases in the older population. Higher prevalence of health problems can lead to greater pressure on the health care system and a growing burden of disease for individuals.


Healthy life expectancy Diseases Mobility limitations Spain 



The authors are very grateful to the funding from NIA R01 AG040176-02, and funding provided from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation (ECO2010-21787-C03-01) and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (ECO2012-35584). The authors also acknowledge the Health Catalan Department team for sharing the data.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mortality, Health and Epidiemology UnitInstitut National d’Études Démographiques INEDParisFrance
  2. 2.Riskcenter, Department of Econometrics, Statistics and Spanish EconomyUniversity of BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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