The Rising Sun and the Stumbling Bear: The Mortality Consequences of Economic Well-Being
As the sun rises gently, its rays creep across the landscape, casting its warmth differentially. When the bear stumbles, it lurches downward all at once. These metaphors capture the mortality experiences of Japan and Russia, the first as it prospered in the postwar era, and the second as it collapsed in the last few years of the 20th century. For each nation, longevity moved with economic performance. Japan’s sustained progress over four decades—with a 10-fold increase in per capita income from 1950 through 1990—was accompanied by extremely significant reductions in age-specific mortality. Russia’s economy plummeted in the first half of the 1990s, and longevity fell alongside.1 Figure 1 portrays the story.
KeywordsLiving Standard Mortality Reduction Penn World Table Improve Living Standard Mortality Crisis
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