January 22, 2009

Post-communist economy takes toll

Male mortality rose 42 percent from 1989 and 2002 in Russia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, London researchers said.

Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and from the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge analyzed mortality rates of men ages 15-69 in post-communist countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union between 1989 and 2002.

The researchers found that mass privatization programs were associated with a rise of 12.8 percent in short-term adult male mortality rates. They suggest unemployment, which rose by 56 percent during the period, was probably a key factor.

The five countries implemented shock rapid privatization, but other countries which adopted slower rates of change fared much better. The five best-performing countries were Albania, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Slovenia, which saw a 10 percent fall in male mortality and a 2 percent rise in unemployment.

In addition to unemployment, other factors found to be associated with a rise in male mortality rates were stress, a decrease in the quality of healthcare, rising social inequalities, social disorganization and increased corruption, the study said.

The findings are published in the Lancet.