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Mortality and life expectancy in post-communist countries. What are the lessons for other countries?

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The unprecedented development of the recent years — stagnation and even decline of life expectancy in high-income nations. In the US there was a decline in life expectancy in 2014-15 by 0.1 years, and then another decline by 0.1 years from 2015 to 2016. Moreover, there has been a rise in age-adjusted mortality for the white non-Hispanic working age population and a marked increase in the mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanics in the US after 1998 in all 5-year age groups from 30 to 55.

The leading immediate causes for increased mortality were poisoning, suicide, chronic liver disease, and cirrhosis. There are studies that link these phenomena to the deterioration of relative social and economic conditions of large groups of the population (such as less educated non-Hispanic whites in the US), to psychological stress due to a loss of social status, social dynamism, and life perspective.

The mortality crisis in post-communist economies of Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union in the 1990s was caused by he similar developments (stress associated with the transition to the market and the decline in social status for large groups of the population). The analysis of this causes and mechanisms of this mortality crisis in post-communist countries can shed light on the current unfavorable health status developments in high income countries.

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