Journal Article

30 Jahre Deutsche Einheit: Errungenschaften und verbliebene Unterschiede in der Mortalitätsentwicklung nach Alter und Todesursachen

Grigoriev, P., Pechholdová, M., Mühlichen, M., Scholz, R. D., Klüsener, S.
30 years of German unification: achievements and remaining differences in mortality trends by age and cause of death
Bundesgesundheitsblatt - Gesundheitsforschung - Gesundheitsschutz , 64:4, 481–490 (2021)
Open Access


During the German division, two culturally very similar populations were exposed to very disparate socioeconomic conditions, which converged again after 1989. The impact of healthcare and life circumstances on mortality differences can better be esimated when cultural explanations are widely neglectable.
For the first time, we analyse harmonised cause-of-death data explicitly by age. Hereby, we can show which ages or birth cohorts were particularly affected by German division and reunification in their mortality and to which causes of death this is
Materials and methods
We harmonised the German cause-of-death statistics by applying an internationally standardised harmonisation process to account for differences and breaks in cause-of-death coding practices. We analysed the data using decomposition methods.
During the 1980s, east-west disparities were increasing as progress in the reduction of cardiovascular mortality was much stronger in West Germany, notably at older ages. After 1989, East Germany was able to catch up to the west in many areas. This is especially true for elderly persons and women, while east-west disparities are still visible today, particularly among male adult cohorts (1950–1970) strongly affected by the East German transition crisis.
The lower life expectancy of the East German population in the late 1980s was primarily caused by a slower pace of the
cardiovascular revolution. The remaining present-day disparities are rather an aftermath of the East German transition crisis than direct aftereffects of the division.

Keywords: Germany (Alte Bundesländer), Germany (Neue Bundesländer), Germany/FRG, Germany/GDR, causes of death, mortality
The Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research (MPIDR) in Rostock is one of the leading demographic research centers in the world. It's part of the Max Planck Society, the internationally renowned German research society.