“Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn”: A new demography for planning the future health care system

Event Description

A Department of Health Economics Wellbeing and Society (DHEWS) Policy Seminar presented by Emeritus Professor Stephen Birch.


Sustainability of publicly funded health care systems remains a challenge as policy makers are faced with aging populations, increased patient expectations and rapidly increasing technologies. In this presentation I argue that the ways health care system planning is performed overlooks the underlying rationale for government intervention and ignores epidemiological change. As a result,  inappropriate planning methods are used that fuel expansion in health care expenditures in ways that cannot be justified by the needs of populations. Evidence is presented on epidemiological change in the Australian population and a planning methodology developed to accommodate such changes in health system planning. The impact of epidemiological change of health care expenditure requirements is illustrated using data from the Intergenerational report.

Speaker Biography

Stephen Birch is Emeritus Professor at the University of Queensland, University of Manchester and McMaster University as well as being honorary professor at University of Technology, Sydney. He retired from his role as Director of the Centre for the Business and Economics of Health at the University of Queensland and part time professor in health economics at the University of Manchester (UK) in 2022. He has a doctorate in economics from York University, a Master’s degree in fiscal studies from Bath University and a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Sheffield University. He served as publicly appointed board member on the Ontario Health Professions’ Regulatory Advisory Council, the Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Brant Local Health Integration Network and the York District Health Authority Community Health Council. He was appointed to the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences expert panel on improving access to oral health care for vulnerable people living in Canada. He has served on many committees and advisory boards on health workforce and health service planning and evaluation as well as consultant to WHO, World Bank and several national and state health ministries. He has over 300 research publications. He served as Senior Editor for Social Science & Medicine for 15 years and continues to serve on the editorial advisory board.