Digital ageing in Europe: a comparative analysis of Italian, Finnish and Swedish national policies on eHealth

Heli Valokivi, Simone Carlo, Elin Kvist, Marjo Outila

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Ageing Europeans are today healthier than previous generations and often manage to live independently up to a high age. The proportion of people 80 years of age and older has increased significantly, and with high age the risk of multi-illness and dementia increases. Strong urbanisation processes have changed the demographic structure in rural areas, and young women and men have migrated towards the urban areas to study and work, while older persons have remained behind. This demographic challenge of increasing numbers of persons older than 80 years with care needs living in remote rural areas has become a major European social problem. In tackling this dilemma, many European countries have high expectations for eHealth, digitalisation and welfare technology. In this comparative study of policy debates in Italy, Finland and Sweden, we analyse how – between 2009 and 2019 – the issues of eHealth have been articulated in national and regional policies of the three countries with deep differences in terms of digitalisation and health systems, but with similar ageing populations. We identify in the documents three core topics – the role of technology, the rural issue and responsibility for care. These topics are treated in the documents with differences and similarities between the three countries. Beyond the differences and similarities, the documents reveal both a certain techno-enthusiasm about the role of eHealth in the life of the older adults as well as a limited understanding of the complexity (relationally as well as spatially) of the digital landscape of caring for older adults.
Translated title of the contributionVanheneminen ja digitalisaatio Euroopassa: vertaileva analyysi kansallisista eTerveys politiikoista Italiassa, Suomessa ja Ruotsissa
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
JournalAgeing and Society
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Jul 2021
MoEC publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • ageing policies
  • digital landscape of care
  • digitalisation
  • eHealth
  • qualitative comparison

Field of science

  • Sociology

Citation for this output