Did Mass Privatisation really increase Post-Communist male mortality?
A recent article in the Lancet, by David Stuckler, Larry King and Martin McKee,
investigated anew the fluctuations in adult male mortality rates that have come to
characterise the so-called post-communist mortality crisis. Adopting a cross-country,
time-series perspective the authors examined how the economic policy strategies of the
1990s impacted upon observed fluctuations in mortality. They conclude that the adoption
of a strategy of rapid (mass) privatisation contributed to the adverse mortality trends. We
subject that finding to closer scrutiny using the same data from which the Stuckler et al
claim stems. We find that their claim that mass privatisation adversely affected male
mortality trends in the post-Communist world does not stand up to closer examination. It
is not supported empirically and is at odds with what we know about both transition in
the post-communist world and about health trends over time in this region.