Money or medicine - what triggered rising life expectancy in Eastern Germany after unification?

Tobias C. Vogt, 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. By making use of the natural- experiment setting, the envisaged elaboration seeks to shed light on the impact of rising income and improved health care quality in lowering mortality. In order to grasp the effects of medical innovation and increasing wealth, we draw upon two rich datasets: the cause of death statistics of the German Federal Statistical Office and process data from the statutory German Pension Fund. In this context, particular emphasis is set on the regional development of rising life expectancy not only on the level of the Eastern German Laender but also down to the district and community level. We assume, firstly, that higher incomes may have entailed a rather uniform rise in life- expectancy over regions as all Eastern Germans could benefit from increasing wealth at the same time while, secondly, medical progress may have contributed heterogeneously as citizens in urban areas may have benefited first from improved medical infrastructure whereas rural areas followed later.

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Presented in Poster Session 2