Health at a Glance 2021

Health at a Glance 2021

The next edition of Health at a Glance will be published on 8 November 2023

COVID-19 pandemic underlines need to strengthen resilience of health systems

COVID‑19 contributed, directly and indirectly, to a 16% increase in the expected number of deaths in 2020 and the first half of 2021 across OECD countries. Life expectancy fell in 24 of 30 countries and the mental health impact of the pandemic has been huge. The pandemic has also led to a sharp increase in health spending across the OECD. Coupled with reductions in economic activity, the average health spending to GDP ratio jumped from 8.8% in 2019 to 9.7% in 2020.


Indicators by theme


The health impact of COVID-19

The health impact of COVID-19 has been devastating, killing millions and causing long-lasting symptoms for many that survive. It has placed immense pressure on health care services that were often already overstretched before the pandemic.


Health status

Life expectancy, mortality and well-being

Life expectancy fell in most countries during the pandemic, mental distress has increased, and large health inequalities persist.


Risk Factors

Smoking, alcohol, obesity and air pollution

Smoking, alcohol consumption, unhealthy nutrition, lack of physical activity and obesity are the root cause of many chronic conditions and increase the risk of people dying from COVID-19.



Affordability, availability and use

Despite universal health coverage in most OECD countries, barriers to access remain, with COVID-19 disrupting health care for people with other needs.


Quality of care

Quality and outcomes of care

Quality of care is improving in terms of safety and effectiveness, and more attention is being placed on patient-reported outcomes and experiences.



Health spending

Pre-COVID-19, spending on health amounted to 8.8% of GDP on average across OECD countries. With the onset of COVID 19, sharp increases in health spending occurred in many countries, notably within Europe.



Health workforce

The number of doctors and nurses have increased over the past decade in nearly all OECD countries, but shortages persist. These shortages have been thrown into sharp relief during the pandemic.



Pharmaceutical sector

Pharmaceuticals account for around one-sixth of health spending on average. Increased uptake of generics and biosimilars can increase value-for-money in health systems.



Ageing & long-term care

Health systems should adapt to meet the needs of an ageing population, including a greater demand for labour-intensive long-term care and more integrated, person-centred care.



Explore our data

  • Source: OECD (2021), Health at a Glance 2021: Facts and figures



Health at a Glance 2021

OECD Indicators

Health at a Glance provides a comprehensive set of indicators on population health and health system performance across OECD members and key emerging economies. These cover health status, risk factors for health, access to and quality of health care, and health resources. Analysis draws from the latest comparable official national statistics and other sources. Alongside indicator-by-indicator analysis, an overview chapter summarises the comparative performance of countries and major trends. This edition also has a special focus on the health impact of COVID-19 in OECD countries, including deaths and illness caused by the virus, adverse effects on access and quality of care, and the growing burden of mental ill-health.

Available from November 09, 2021Also available in: French

view previous editions

Reader’s guide
Executive summary
Indicator overview: Country dashboards and major trends
The health impact of COVID‑19
Health status11 chapters available
Trends in life expectancy
Life expectancy by sex and education level
Excess mortality
Main causes of mortality
Avoidable mortality (preventable and treatable)
Mortality from circulatory diseases
Cancer incidence and mortality
Chronic conditions
Infant, child and adolescent health
Mental health
Self-rated health
Risk factors for health8 chapters available
Smoking among adults
Alcohol consumption among adults
Smoking and alcohol consumption among adolescents
Diet and physical activity among adults
Diet and physical activity among adolescents
Overweight and obesity among adults
Overweight and obesity among adolescents
Air pollution and environmental degradation
Access: Affordability, availability and use of services12 chapters available
Population coverage for health care
Unmet needs for health care
Extent of health care coverage
Financial hardship and out-of-pocket expenditure
Consultations with doctors
Digital health
Hospital beds and occupancy
Hospital discharges and average length of stay
Diagnostic technologies
Hip and knee replacement
Ambulatory surgery
Waiting times for elective surgery
Quality and outcomes of care14 chapters available
Routine vaccinations
Safe prescribing in primary care
People‑centredness of ambulatory care
Avoidable hospital admissions
Diabetes care
Mortality following acute myocardial infarction (AMI)
Mortality following ischaemic stroke
Hip and knee surgery
Safe acute care – surgical complications and obstetric trauma
Safe acute care – workplace culture and patient experiences
Care for people with mental health disorders
Breast cancer care
Survival for other major cancers
Integrated care
Health expenditure9 chapters available
Health expenditure in relation to GDP
Health expenditure per capita
Prices in the health sector
Health expenditure by financing scheme
Public funding of health spending
Health expenditure by type of service
Health expenditure on primary health care
Health expenditure by provider
Capital expenditure in the health sector
Health workforce11 chapters available
Health and social care workforce
Doctors (overall number)
Doctors (by age, sex and category)
Geographic distribution of doctors
Remuneration of doctors (general practitioners and specialists)
Remuneration of nurses
Hospital workers
Medical graduates
Nursing graduates
International migration of doctors and nurses
Pharmaceutical sector5 chapters available
Pharmaceutical expenditure
Pharmacists and pharmacies
Pharmaceutical consumption
Generics and biosimilars
Pharmaceutical research and development
Ageing and long-term care11 chapters available
Demographic trends
Life expectancy and healthy life expectancy at age 65
Self-rated health and disability at age 65 and over
Safe long-term care
Access to long-term care
Informal carers
Long-term care workers
Long-term care settings
Long-term care spending and unit costs
End-of-life care
Powered by OECD iLibrary