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

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Listed:
  • 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)

Suggested Citation

  • Jay Bhattacharya & Christina Gathmann & Grant Miller, 2013. "The Gorbachev Anti-alcohol Campaign and Russia's Mortality Crisis," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 232-260, April.
  • 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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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ellman, Michael, 1994. "The Increase in Death and Disease under "Katastroika."," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 18(4), pages 329-355, August.
    2. 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.
    3. repec:hrv:faseco:33077825 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Nathan Nunn & Nancy Qian, 2011. "The Potato's Contribution to Population and Urbanization: Evidence From A Historical Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 126(2), pages 593-650.
    5. Hoyt Bleakley, 2007. "Disease and Development: Evidence from Hookworm Eradication in the American South," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(1), pages 73-117.
    6. Cornia, Giovanni Andrea & Paniccia, Renato (ed.), 2000. "The Mortality Crisis in Transitional Economies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198297413.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Jay Bhattacharya & Christina Gathmann & Grant Miller, 2013. "The Gorbachev Anti-alcohol Campaign and Russia's Mortality Crisis," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(2), pages 232-260, April.
    2. de Goeij, Moniek C.M. & Suhrcke, Marc & Toffolutti, Veronica & van de Mheen, Dike & Schoenmakers, Tim M. & Kunst, Anton E., 2015. "How economic crises affect alcohol consumption and alcohol-related health problems: A realist systematic review," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 131(C), pages 131-146.
    3. Giovanni Andrea Cornia, 2016. "The mortality crisis in transition economies," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 298-298, October.
    4. Vladimir A. Kozlov & Dina Y. Balalaeva, 2015. "Institutional Deficit and Health Outcomes in Post-Communist States," HSE Working papers WP BRP 25/PS/2015, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    5. Radaev, Vadim V. & Kotelnikova, Zoya V., 2016. "Changes in Alcohol Consumption and Governmental Alcohol Policy in Russia," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 5, pages 92-117, October.
    6. Evgeny Yakovlev, 2015. "Alcoholism and mortality in Eastern Europe," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 168-168, July.
    7. Kolosnitsyna, Marina & Khorkina, Natalia & Dorjiev, Khonor, 2015. "The impact of price measures of state alcohol policy on the consumption of alcoholic beverages in Russia," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 5, pages 171-190.
    8. repec:eee:jeborg:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:210-232 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:eee:ecosys:v:42:y:2018:i:1:p:119-131 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Evgeny Yakovlev, 2012. "Peers and Alcohol: Evidence from Russia," Working Papers w0182, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • I12 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health Behavior
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • P26 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Political Economy
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty

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