Unbiased Analysis of Today's Healthcare Issues

Capitalism and Russia’s Alcohol Problem

Written By: Jason Shafrin - Dec• 12•12

It turns out that capitalism was not the cause of Russia’s current (largely alcohol-related) mortality crisis.  From an NBER working paper by Bhattacharya, Gathmann, and Miller (2012):

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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