Did 'mass privatisation' really increase post-communist male mortality?

Christopher J. Gerry, University College London
Tomasz M. Mickiewicz, University College London
Zlatko Nikoloski, University College London

A recent article in the Lancet, by David Stuckler, Larry King and Martin McKee, investigated anew the fluctuations in adult male mortality rates that have come to characterise the so-called post-communist mortality crisis. They conclude that the adoption of a strategy of rapid (mass) privatisation contributed to the adverse mortality trends. Using the same data from which the Stuckler et al claim stems, we present a series of stylised facts that cast doubt on the intuitive plausibility of their findings, we identify a number of problems with their data and we make more plausible assumptions about the dynamic nature of the relationship between mass privatisation and mortality. We find that the claim that mass privatisation adversely affected male mortality trends in the post-Communist world does not stand up to closer scrutiny. It is not supported empirically and is at odds with what we know about both transition in the post-communist world and about health trends over time in this region.

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Presented in Session 3: Comparative perspectives on health and mortality of national populations

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