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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% 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 data set 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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 18589.

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Date of creation: Dec 2012
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Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:18589

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  1. Nunn, Nathan & Qian, Nancy, 2009. "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence from an Historical Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 7364, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  2. Christina Gathmann & Marijke Welisch, 2012. "The Gorbachev Anti-Alcohol Campaign and Russia’s Mortality Crisis," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 10(4), pages 62-68, December.
  3. Brainerd, Elizabeth, 2001. "Economic reform and mortality in the former Soviet Union: A study of the suicide epidemic in the 1990s," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 1007-1019, May.
  4. Ellman, Michael, 1994. "The Increase in Death and Disease under "Katastroika."," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 329-55, August.
  5. Hoyt Bleakley, 2007. "Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(1), pages 73-117, 02.
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Cited by:
  1. Bhattacharya, Jay & Gathmann, Christina & Miller, Grant, 2012. "The Gorbachev Anti-Alcohol Campaign and Russia's Mortality Crisis," IZA Discussion Papers 6783, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  2. Evgeny Yakovlev, 2012. "Peers and Alcohol: Evidence from Russia," Working Papers w0182, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).

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