The Poor Health Status of the Hungarians; Comparative Macro-Analysis of the Likely Explanatory Factors on Hungarian and Austrian Data, 1960-2004
In Hungary, the health status of working age men is extremely bad in comparison with working age men in both developed market economies and neighboring transition countries. The study, based on data between 1960 and 2004, intends to discover the reasons for this peculiar situation by investigating the health status of the population in Hungary and Austria with health-production functions on a macro level and by making comparisons. The rationale for comparison of these very countries is the territorial closeness and the long mutual past. The mortality rate of the working age population (15–60 years old) is considered a proxy variable for health status. According to this indicator, health status in the two countries was at the same level in 1960s, but started to diverge around 1970. As an explanatory variable, indicators of life style, long-term economic development, healthcare resources and the situation in the labor market are taken into account. The results reveal that the poor health of the adult male population of Hungary can primarily be explained by high levels of prolonged alcohol consumption, heavy smoking and widespread self-exploitative excess work in the hidden economy, especially during the period of socialism. In Austria, alcohol consumption, and smoking are also relevant factors, but with much less effect than in Hungary.
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