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The importance of regional availability of health care for old age survival - Findings from German reunification

29 Sep 2015

Background:
This article investigates the importance of regional health care availability for old age survival. Using German reunification as a natural experiment, we show that spatial variation in health care in East Germany considerably influenced the convergence of East German life expectancy toward West German levels.MethodWe apply cause-deleted life tables and continuous mortality decomposition for the years 1982–2007 to show how reductions in circulatory mortality among the elderly affected the East German catch-up in life expectancy.
Results:
Improvements in remaining life expectancy at older ages were first seen in towns with university hospitals, where state-of-the-art services became available first.
Conclusion:
Our results suggest that the modernization of the health care system had a substantial effect on old-age life expectancy and helped to significantly reduce circulatory diseases as the main cause of death in East Germany.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Population Health Metrics