East Germans can expect to live longer thanks to reunification: study

Wed Sep 10, 2014 11:57am EDT
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BERLIN (Reuters) - The life expectancy of east Germans has risen sharply since their communist state crumbled and was reunified with the more prosperous West in 1990, a new study shows.

Reunification added 6.2 years to the life of men in the former East and 4.2 years to their female counterparts, according to calculations conducted by Tobias Vogt, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, and published ahead of the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall later this year.

If the German Democratic Republic (GDR) still existed in the east of the country, boys born in 2011 could expect to live to the age of 70.9 while girls would have a life expectancy of 78.7 years, the study showed.

But in reunified Germany boys born in 2011 were forecast to live until they were 77.1 years old and girls could expect to reach the age of 82.9.

"The gain in longevity is thus one of the biggest - albeit often overlooked - achievements of German reunification," said Vogt.

He said the increase in life expectancy for east Germans was likely due to improvements in medical treatment and an improved standard of living since reunification.

(Reporting By Bethan John; Editing by Michelle Martin and Noah Barkin)

Visitors watch a replica of the Berlin Wall at an exhibition about the fall of the Wall in 1989 in a shopping center at Potdamer Platz square in Berlin September 4, 2014. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch