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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: Vol. 5 No. 2 (April 2013)

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

Article Citation

Bhattacharya, Jay, Christina Gathmann, and Grant Miller. 2013. "The Gorbachev Anti-Alcohol Campaign and Russia's Mortality Crisis." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 5(2): 232-60.

DOI: 10.1257/app.5.2.232

Abstract

Political and economic transition is often blamed for Russia's 40 percent 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 dataset 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. (JEL D72, I12, I18, P26, P36)

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Authors

Bhattacharya, Jay (Stanford U)
Gathmann, Christina (U Heidelberg and CESifo, Munich)
Miller, Grant (Stanford U)

JEL Classifications

D72: Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
I12: Health Production
I18: Health: Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
P26: Socialist Systems and Transitional Economies: Political Economy; Property Rights
P36: Socialist Institutions and Their Transitions: Consumer Economics; Health; Education and Training: Welfare, Income, Wealth, and Poverty

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