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

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  • Bhattacharya, Jay

    () (Stanford University)

  • Gathmann, Christina

    () (Heidelberg University)

  • Miller, Grant

    () (Stanford University)

Abstract

Political and economic transition is often blamed for Russia's 40% surge in deaths between 1990 and 1994 (the "Russian Mortality Crisis"). 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. We use archival sources to build a new oblast-year data set spanning 1970-2000 and find that: (1) The campaign was associated with substantially fewer campaign year deaths, (2) Oblasts with larger reductions in alcohol consumption and mortality during the campaign experienced larger transition era increases, and (3) Other former Soviet states and Eastern European countries exhibit similar mortality patterns commensurate with their campaign exposure. The campaign's end explains a large share of the mortality crisis, suggesting that Russia's transition to capitalism and democracy was not as lethal as commonly suggested.

Suggested Citation

  • 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).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6783
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Giovanni Andrea Cornia, 2016. "The mortality crisis in transition economies," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 298-298.
    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 232-260, April.
    3. repec:eee:jeborg:v:141:y:2017:i:c:p:210-232 is not listed on IDEAS
    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. 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.
    6. 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.
    7. Evgeny Yakovlev, 2015. "Alcoholism and mortality in Eastern Europe," IZA World of Labor, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA), pages 168-168.
    8. 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.
    9. Evgeny Yakovlev, 2012. "Peers and Alcohol: Evidence from Russia," Working Papers w0182, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    mortality; transition; alcohol; Russia;

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • P35 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Public Finance
    • P36 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training; Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty
    • P37 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions - - - Legal

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