Socioeconomic status and children’s need for hospital services. Implications for need-based resource allocation models

  • Oddvar Kaarboe Department of Health Management and Health Economics, University of Oslo, Norway
  • Fredrik Carlsen Department of Economics, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
Keywords: Socioeconomic status, children’s need for hospital services, resource allocation models


We investigate whether parents´ socioeconomic status affects children´s need for hospital services, and potential implications for need-based resource allocation models. Data are from somatic hospital stays by children below the age of 11 in Norway in 2011. Socioeconomic status is measured by parents’ educational level or income. We find that the educational gradient is dominating the income gradient, and the effects are strong: Hospital expenditures of a child whose mother (father) has not completed secondary education are 51 % (42%) higher than average expenditures. The effect of parents´ educational level is strongest for the youngest children and is mainly due to emergency care. Since we find a negative correlation between the educational attainment and hospital expenditures, we argue that education level of parents should be included in the need-based resource allocation model.


Published: Online September 2017. In print December 2017.