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Stefan Resch (2001)

The 'Lost Years' Concept – Theoretical Development and Practical Application with a Comparison of Mortalities in Western and Eastern Germany*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 26, 2/2001, p. 203-229, Opladen: Verlag Leske + Budrich, ISSN: 0340-2398

The main concern of this essay is to provide the reader with a detailed overview of the methodical trends, as well as of the strengths and weaknesses of 'lost years' as a mortality indicator. In the second part, the theory is followed by an empirical application of the concept, comparing mortality between Western and Eastern Germany in 1990 and 1997.

It is demonstrated using lost years that premature death played a greater role in Eastern than in Western Germany. Differences also occur as to the relevance of the individual causes of death: Tumours dominate in the West, whilst circulatory diseases are common in the East. The tremendous reduction in years lost in the new Federal Länder due to circulatory diseases in the period under observation was astonishing. Additionally, the high proportion of lost years owing to causes of death that were primarily conduct-related was noticeable in Eastern Germany; a more precise analysis of illness of the digestive organs as a cause of death permits one to presume that the untypical increase in the number of these causes of death was an artefact of the ideological manipulations of mortality statistics in the GDR.

* Original title: Das Konzept der Verlorenen Lebensjahre – Theoretische Entwicklung und praktische Anwendung anhand eines Vergleichs der Mortalitäten West- und Ostdeutschlands (full text in German only)

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