Warning: Freedom Can Be Dangerous to Your Health

In Eastern Europe, death rates soar while birthrates plummet, creating an unprecedented crisis

THESE PAST FEW YEARS SHOULD have been the best of times for Eastern Europe. Oppressive communist regimes were swept aside, along with the walls, fences, laws and secret-police forces that kept whole populations locked away from the world. Freely elected governments are in office, and the free market is starting to take hold. At long last, East Europeans are looking forward to the kind of material prosperity that the West has known for decades. This should be a time of joy in the East, an era of good health, optimism and babies.

It is not. For many East Europeans the age...

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