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

67 Pages Posted: 9 Apr 2011

See all articles by Jay Bhattacharya

Jay Bhattacharya

Stanford University - Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Christina Gathmann

Alfred-Weber Institut; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

Grant Miller

Stanford University - School of Medicine; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: March 21, 2011

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 a different 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 between 32% and 49% of the mortality crisis, suggesting that Russia’s transition to capitalism and democracy was not as lethal as commonly suggested.

Keywords: Alcohol, Mortality, Prohibition, Russia

JEL Classification: I12, I18, J11, J18, P27

Suggested Citation

Bhattacharya, Jayanta and Gathmann, Christina and Miller, Grant, The Gorbachev Anti-Alcohol Campaign and Russia's Mortality Crisis (March 21, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1805700 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1805700

Jayanta Bhattacharya

Stanford University - Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research ( email )

Center for Health Policy
179 Encina Commons
Stanford, CA 94305-6019
United States
650-736-0404 (Phone)
650-723-1919 (Fax)

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
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Christina Gathmann (Contact Author)

Alfred-Weber Institut ( email )

Bergheimer Str. 20
Heidelberg, 69115
Germany

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.iza.org/index_html?lang=en&mainframe=http%3A//www.iza.org/en/webcontent/personnel/photos%

CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute) ( email )

Poschinger Str. 5
Munich, DE-81679
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.stanford.edu/~cgathman

Grant Miller

Stanford University - School of Medicine ( email )

291 Campus Drive
Li Ka Shing Building
Stanford, CA 94305-5101
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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