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The Gorbachev Anti-Alcohol Campaign and Russia’s Mortality Crisis

  • Christina Gathmann
  • Marijke Welisch

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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Article provided by Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich in its journal DICE.

Volume (Year): 10 (2012)
Issue (Month): 4 (December)
Pages: 62-68

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Handle: RePEc:ces:ifodic:v:10:y:2012:i:4:p:62-68
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  1. repec:oup:qjecon:v:126:y:2011:i:2:p:593-650 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. 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 232-60, April.
  3. 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.
  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. 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).
  6. 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.
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