German East-West Mortality Difference: Two Cross-Overs Driven by Smoking

Tobias C. Vogt, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Mikko Myrskylä, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research and London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
Rembrandt D. Scholz, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Alyson A. van Raalte, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Since the Fall of the Berlin Wall, East German women saw marked increases in their life expectancy and a convergence to the West German level. Certain age groups have even experienced lower mortality than in the West, despite having worse overall living conditions. Recent work has shown that lower smoking rates among East German female cohorts born in the 1940s are likely driving this paradox. Mortality forecasting methods that do not account for smoking would forecast a widening life expectancy advantage for East German women, based on these favorable recent trends. Yet, after reunification smoking rates for younger female cohorts rose and started to exceed West German levels. Using a variety of existing methods, we seek to investigate if the increased smoking prevalence in the East will lead to another crossover in the future in which East German women will return to higher mortality than West German women.

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Presented in Session 46: Health Behaviors, Health, and Mortality