The recent global economic crisis has evoked widespread academic interest in the effects of macroeconomic changes on health and its determinants. It has been proposed that economic downturns may have serious public health consequences in lower income countries. In Eastern Europe and in the former Soviet countries in particular, the 1990s crises were related to a dramatic deterioration in health and led to increasing health inequalities in the region. Often these effects were related to hazardous alcohol consumption. After strong economic growth in the early to mid-2000s, the late 2000s crisis hit the three Baltic countries particularly hard. This has given rise to questions about whether the recent economic downturn has affected population health status in general and whether its effects have been similar in all socioeconomic groups. In this presentation, Dr Leinsalu will discuss ongoing research on this subject. In particular, she will focus on: 1) the general trends in life expectancy and cause-specific mortality over the 2000s; 2) the trends in inequalities in self-rated health before and after the late 2000s crisis. Finally, some of the potential mechanisms underlying these patterns will be discussed.

Mall Leinsalu is a senior researcher at the Stockholm Centre on Health of Societies in Transition (SCOHOST), Södertörn University. Her research interests cover social determinants of health with a focus on Eastern Europe.