The effects of 2004 European Union enlargement on mortality development for joining countries
The life expectancy development during the past 150 years has been remarkable in many parts of the world. These developments, however, have been very different across countries. In Europe, the diverse historical and political changes lead to clusters of regions that followed different mortality developments. The aim of this study was to examine how countries that entered the European Union in 2004 and 2007 differ in terms of mortality from continuous members of the EU and from Eastern European countries that have never joined the EU. Moreover, I studied a possible convergence in mortality indicators between these groups of countries. The data used to explore mortality conditions in those groups of countries was derived from two sources: The Human Mortality Database and European Health for All Database. Descriptive statistics and calculations of average yearly pace of change for groups of countries have been applied for each mortality indicator. Furthermore, regression models have been conducted to estimate the impact of belonging to a country group on mortality indicators, adjusted for some macro-level indicators of economic progress and health expenditure. The results verified previous research implying the importance of period factors which can affect mortality in the short term. For all mortality indicators, accelerated improvements between 1995 and 1999 have been found in countries who became EU members in 2004. Moreover, life expectancy convergence was observed for life expectancy at birth but not for the older ages which could imply that the positive progress affected older ages to smaller degree. My findings confirm the importance of social environment and imply that the process of joining the EU possibly could reduce social stress and affect mortality conditions positively.
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