Gender health differences in West and East Germany

Mine Kühn, Max-Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Christian Dudel, Max-Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Tobias C. Vogt, Max-Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Anna Oksuzyan, Max-Planck Institute for Demographic Research

Germany was divided for more than forty years and therefore provides a setting for analyzing long-term effects of different socioeconomic and political environments on health. While divided, populations in the East and West developed a significant gap in life expectancy. In the years following the reunification the gap in life expectancy narrowed due to a remarkable increase in life expectancy of East Germans. The German reunification of 1990 offers a natural experiment on the gradual evolution of health differences in subsequent years, as living conditions in East and West became more alike. Here, we explore changes in gender differences in health and life expectancy across regions in the German population using the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) between 1990 and 2013. Panel regression techniques are used to identify health satisfaction trends after German reunification. Our findings suggest a higher gender health gap in East Germany than in West Germany after reunification. In both East and West, this significant health differences in favor of males diminishes and disappears over time. Further estimates highlight the importance of differentiating not only between sex and region, but also to differentiate between those who migrated from East to West Germany and those who stayed in East Germany. Generally, it seems that East German males who stayed in East Germany have a health disadvantage which can be explained by socio-economic factors.

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Presented in Session 76: Gender disparities in health