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The State Socialist Mortality Syndrome

By Elwood Carlson and Rasmus Hoffmann


Death rates for working-age men in European state socialist countries deviated from general improvements in survival observed in the rest of Europe during the 20th century. The magnitude of structural labor force changes across countries correlates with lagged increases in death rates for men in the working ages. This pattern is consistent with a hypothesis that hyper-development of heavy industry and stagnation (even contraction) of the service sector created anomic conditions leading to unhealthy lifestyles and self-destructive behavior among men moving from primary-sector to secondary-sector occupations. Occupational contrasts within countries similarly show concentration of rising male death rates among blue collar workers. Collapse of state socialist systems produced rapid corrections in labor force structure after 1990, again correlated with a fading of the state socialist mortality syndrome in following decades

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