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The Gorbachev Anti-alcohol Campaign and Russia's Mortality Crisis

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  • Jay Bhattacharya
  • Christina Gathmann
  • Grant Miller

Abstract

Political and economic transition is often blamed for Russia's 40 percent surge in deaths between 1990 and 1994. Highlighting that increases in mortality occurred primarily among alcohol-related causes and among working-age men (the heaviest drinkers), this paper investigates an alternative explanation: the demise of the 1985-1988 Gorbachev Anti-Alcohol Campaign. Using archival sources to build a new oblast-year dataset spanning 1978-2000, we find a variety of evidence suggesting that the campaign's end explains a large share of the mortality crisis, implying that Russia's transition to capitalism and democracy was not as lethal as commonly suggested. (JEL D72, I12, I18, P26, P36)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 5 (2013)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 232-60

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:5:y:2013:i:2:p:232-60

Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.5.2.232
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  1. Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2009. "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment," NBER Working Papers 15157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Jay Bhattacharya & Christina Gathmann & Grant Miller, 2012. "The Gorbachev Anti-Alcohol Campaign and Russia's Mortality Crisis," NBER Working Papers 18589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Ellman, Michael, 1994. "The Increase in Death and Disease under "Katastroika."," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 329-55, August.
  4. Brainerd, Elizabeth, 2001. "Economic Reform and Mortality in the Former Soviet Union: A Study of the Suicide Epidemic in the 1990s," IZA Discussion Papers 243, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  5. Hoyt Bleakley, 2007. "Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 73-117, 02.
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Cited by:
  1. Jay Bhattacharya & Christina Gathmann & Grant Miller, 2012. "The Gorbachev Anti-Alcohol Campaign and Russia's Mortality Crisis," NBER Working Papers 18589, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Evgeny Yakovlev, 2012. "Peers and Alcohol: Evidence from Russia," Working Papers w0182, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).

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