Long-Term Mortality of War Cohorts: The Case of Finland

Jan M. Saarela, Åbo Akademi University
Fjalar Finnäs, Åbo Akademi University

The system of full mobilisation and the modest effects of the World War II events on the civil population make Finland a highly useful case for exploring whether war veterans experience elevated long-term mortality risks. Using data from the Human Mortality Database and a detailed register-based sample containing main causes of death, we study mortality rates of the Finnish male cohorts who participated in the wars against the Soviet Union in 1939-1944. We find no indications of elevations in long-term mortality rates of people in the war cohorts. Recently after war-end, death rates in the war cohorts were substantially above the expected time trend, but they approached unity at the time antibiotics were introduced. The medical advances of later date have additionally helped in notably reducing mortality levels in the general population. This health beneficial development has evidently forced down any potential for a reduction of later-life survival in the war cohorts.

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Presented in Session 79: Mortality Trends in More Developed Countries