How to evaluate the capacity of hospital systems in a very long term international comparative perspective? Hospital beds per inhabitant in Catalonia 1900s-2010s

Authors

  • Paloma Fernández Pérez Universitat de Barcelona

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1344/jesb2021.1.j087

Keywords:

Hospital Beds per Capita, Well Being, Healthcare, Catalonia, Hospitals

Abstract

This article proposes that the number of hospital beds available in a territory can be used as a comparative tool to gain a perspective on the very long term evolution of the historical capacity of hospital systems worldwide. The article presents: 1) the issues stemming from a lack of sources and comparative data available internationally before 1960; 2) data for the early 20th century for Barcelona and other cities of the world,; 3) data on hospital beds for various countries since the 1960s, with attention to data for Catalonia,; 4) data for the number of hospital beds per 1000 inhabitants for the past few decades in Catalonia, and a comparison with other autonomous communities and countries. The sources are the League of Nations, Yearbooks for Barcelona, the National Statistics Institute of Spain (Instituto Nacional de Estadística, INE), IDESCAT, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the OECD. The article provides research data that confirm that the beginning of the modern increase in the number of hospital beds per capita in Catalonia started as the rest of the Western world in the first third of the 20th century. Such growth was maintained throughout the 20th century up until the 1980s. After the 1980s, in Barcelona as in the rest of the world, there was a process of reducing hospital beds per capita. This has therefore created the possibility of hospital services being overwhelmed very quickly in the instance of a widespread health emergency.

Author Biography

Paloma Fernández Pérez, Universitat de Barcelona

Ph.D. in History U.C.Berkeley. Professor of Economic and Business History, Universitat de Barcelona. Family businesses (theory and history), Business History, Networks in Entrepreneurship. Most recent books on large family businesses in Latin America and Spain, forthcoming in FBBVA in Spanish, and Edward Elgar Publishers in English

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Published

2021-01-11