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The health transition in a century of political upheaval: the case of the Baltic countries

Population and Societies

555, May 2018

The modern history of the three Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania has been profoundly marked by war and political upheaval. Analysing changes in life expectancy in these countries over the last century, Jacques Vallin, Domantas Jasilionis and France Meslé examine the scars left behind by these disruptive historical events. 

Variations in life expectancy in the Baltic countries are instructive as they tell us about the possible links between geopolitical upheavals in an outlying region of the Russian Empire, and later of the USSR, and
the progress of the health transition. Well ahead of Russia at the time of their first independence, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania paid a heavy price when they were forcibly integrated into the USSR. It was only
from 1995, after regaining independence and then entering the European Union, that these countries were able to implement policies that produced a sustained increase in life expectancy and a convergence towards western European standards.

Jacques Vallin

  • Domantas Jasilionis

France Meslé

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