Political and Economic Influences on the Health and Welfare of the Elderly in the USSR and Russia: 1955-2005
The study of the elderly in Russia is important because they constitute a significant social group in a country that is the world's biggest in geographic terms, has a large population (144 million in 2005), is part of both Asia and Europe, and has been transformed from a backward feudal one to an industrial and military superpower. This topic is of additional interest due to the fact that unusual political and economic forces have strongly affected the ageing process in Russia, the health and welfare needs of the elderly, and the provision to them of social and medical services. The politico-economic systems in Russia (communist dictatorship and a planned economy during 1955-91 and authoritarianism with a chaotically evolving capitalist economy in the transition period) have contributed to distortions in the demographic transition, notably sustained increases in age-specific deaths rates. Russian governments have developed comprehensive welfare and medical systems for the elderly that promise much but have had low priority status and scarce resources, and therefore have had many deficiencies. The objectives of this article are to describe the situation of the elderly in Russia in detail and to explain how political, social and economic factors have combined to generate their unique circumstances. This case study can help to place in comparative perspective the features and conditions of the elderly in both developing countries experiencing demographic transition and advanced countries interested in reforms of their welfare and medical programmes.
Volume (Year): 34 (2006)
Issue (Month): 4 ()
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