The Remarkable Pace of Mortality Decline in Eastern Germany after the German Unification: the Role of Regional Availability of Health Care

Tobias C. Vogt, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Sebastian Kluesener, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Since the social, economic and political transformation following the German unification, eastern Germans have experienced large increases in life expectancy almost closing the gap to their western compatriots. This remarkable catch up process started virtually in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall. By making use of the natural experiment setting, we investigate to what extent the availability of modern western health care was responsible for mortality improvements after the unification. First results indicate that within the former communistic part of Germany, the elderly population in East Berlin and the bigger cities benefited first from the fall of the iron curtain. The advantage in gained years of life is foremost attributable to a reduction in cardiovascular mortality. Hence, we assume that modern pharmaceuticals and state of the art medical facilities were made available first in bigger cities and metropolitan areas while rural areas and smaller towns followed later.

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Presented in Session 14: Economic Conditions and Mortality