Transition shocks during adulthood and health a few decades later in post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe
Health of the population of post-socialist Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries lags behind the European Union average. Our aim in this paper is to analyse the link between transition shocks and health two-three decades later.
We use retrospective data from the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe. We estimate the implications of stressful periods, financial hardships and job loss occurring around the transition (1987–1993) on subjective and objective measures of health in 2017. We compare these implications across groups of CEE countries and with the health implications of similar difficulties reported by individuals from Western Europe. We also compare the health implications of difficulties occurring around the transition to difficulties occurring before or after the transition.
In the CEE region there is a peak in the timing of difficulties around the transition. Stressful periods, financial difficulties and job loss around the period of transition are generally associated with worse subjective and objective health at older ages in all groups of CEE countries, even after netting out the effect of childhood health and demographic factors. However, the consequences of hardships due to the transition are not specific, health implications of these difficulties seem to be similar to the implications of other shocks possibly unrelated to the transition.
The high fraction of individuals experiencing stress, financial difficulties and job loss around the transition contributed to the current health disadvantage in the CEE region. As similar shocks in the West and before or after the transition had similar health implications, our results draw the attention to the long-lasting impacts of psychosocial stress and financial hardship during adulthood on later health over the life course.