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A new hypothesis for explaining the mortality gap between eastern and western Germany

Marc A. Luy, University of Rostock

In recent years, several studies on mortality differences based on observed trends in life expectancy between West and East Germany have been done, but the leading determinant is still undetected. Following Bongaarts and Feeney’s tempo-approach I argue that this kind of data is an imperfect base for examining mortality differences between these populations. Adjusting for tempo effects shows that the differences in survival conditions between West and East Germany are still considerably higher than expected and that the survival gap is still far away from an adjustment of survival conditions. The sudden increase in average age at death being responsible for the misleading picture provided by conventional life expectancy might be due to a so far unexpected factor like the improved availability of nursing care, what could cause an increase of quantitative length of life among a certain group of people rather than an increase of general life quality.

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Presented in Session 54: Eastern and Western Europe: convergence and divergence