Main determinants of healthy life in a post-transitional society: case of Estonia

Luule Sakkeus, Estonian Interuniversity Population Research Centre, Tallinn University
Kati Karelson, Estonian Interuniversity Population Research Centre (and National Institute for Health Development)

Estonia has belonged together with other Baltic countries and Russia by its health indicators to the countries often described as going through a health crisis. However, recent developments in the structure of causes of death and the relevant upsurge of life expectancy has signalled that Estonia might be the first among them to pass into the new stage of health transition. Nevertheless, by healthy life expectancy Estonia demonstrates lowest values in Europe, in particular for male and immigrant population. The aim is to study the main determinants for healthy life in Estonia, focusing on gender and native-immigrant population perspective. Main diseases describing mortality bring about the hypothesis that behind the worse health of male population and immigrant origin population lie such determinants as heavy alcohol consumption,binge-drinking, high prevalence of smoking and less physical activity. It has also been suggested that while entering in a new phase of health transition, the more years gained will be the years with disability. The main source for analysis is the Estonian Health Interview Survey 2006 (EstHIS2006, N=6434, covering ages of 15-84, weighted by age groups, sex and five regions to be representative of total population). The survey encompasses several characteristics which allow to distinguish health status (determined as the question on which healthy life expectancy calculations are based), immigrant origin in terms of 1st and 2nd generation and countries of origin, usual language, socio-economic status by attained education, main occupation during lifetime, behavioural patterns in smoking, alcohol drinking, diet habits and phsyical activity and social disposition through overall satsifaction indicators, networks and locus of control. The main hypotheses to be tested is that more than socio-demographic or behavioral determinants the social disposition plays the main role whether the person will be enjoying better health status in the future.

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Presented in Poster Session 2