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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)

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. Guy Michaels, 2008. "The Effect of Trade on the Demand for Skill: Evidence from the Interstate Highway System," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, pages 683-701.
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    4. Guy Michaels, 2008. "The Effect of Trade on the Demand for Skill: Evidence from the Interstate Highway System," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, pages 683-701.
    5. Morrison, Catherine J & Schwartz, Amy Ellen, 1996. "State Infrastructure and Productive Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1095-1111.
    6. Barnes,Douglas French & Khandker,Shahidur R. & Nguyen,Minh Huu & Samad,Hussain A., 2009. "Welfare impacts of rural electrification : evidence from Vietnam," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5057, The World Bank.
    7. Aschauer, David Alan, 1989. "Is public expenditure productive?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, pages 177-200.
    8. Morrison, Catherine J & Schwartz, Amy Ellen, 1996. "State Infrastructure and Productive Performance," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1095-1111.
    9. Fan, Shenggen & Zhang, Linxiu & Zhang, Xiaobo, 2002. "Growth, inequality, and poverty in rural China: the role of public investments," Research reports 125, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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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, 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.
    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.
    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. 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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