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Health Crisis in Russia I. Recent Trends in Life Expectancy and Causes of Death from 1970 to 1993

Vladimir Shkolnikov, France Mesle and Jacques Vallin
Population: An English Selection
Vol. 8 (1996), pp. 123-154
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2949159
Page Count: 32
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Health Crisis in Russia I. Recent Trends in Life Expectancy and Causes of Death from 1970 to 1993
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Abstract

The two articles presented here are the fruit of considerable energies put into piecing together a body of death registration data by sex, age and cause of death in Russia during the last 25 years. Most of the material was unpublished and it was generally handwritten. This work consequently represents a major contribution to our knowledge of recent changes in living conditions in Russia. This would be the case even if the mortality trends were regular and mirrored those observed in the west. But it is all the truer since the route they trace is a bumpy one very different from the steady, sometimes rapid, progress made in the west. It is tempting to read into mortality developments the transformations Russian society has undergone, be they actions aimed directly at reducing mortality from specific causes (the anti-alcohol campaign), or more general changes affecting health conditions (deterioration of the health care system) or the country's economic and social organization. The authors point us sometimes in this direction, but go no further. The reason is simple: what indicators could they examine that would be as reliable, accurate and detailed as the results of their own study? In fact, it seems likely that in the future, it will be mortality patterns themselves that will provide the reference frame for following and dating the changes in Russian society. We have, therefore, chosen to publish both of the articles by Vladimir Shkolnikov, France Mesle and Jacques Vallin in the present volume. In the first, the Russian mortality data are presented by broad groups of causes, and in the second, they are compared in greater detail to those of France and England and Wales. The appendix to part II provides a number of summary tables; a more complete publication of Russian mortality statistics is forthcoming.

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