East meets West

(Nov 23, 2009)

This month sees the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.  This is therefore an appropriate time to remind ourselves of a dramatic example of the plasticity of mortality.  This is the ability of mortality rates to change quickly in response to a new environment, particularly decreases in mortality.

The sudden and unexpected reunification of the two halves of Germany in 1989 provided demographers with an interesting sort of social experiment.  As Scholz and Maier (2003) put it:

"Prior to 1945 East and West Germans shared a cultural and historical background that included the political system. Between 1949 and 1989, however, Germans lived under two different political and economic systems:

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Tags: mortality plasticity, Germany

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