NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

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

Jay Bhattacharya, Christina Gathmann, Grant Miller

NBER Working Paper No. 18589
Issued in December 2012
NBER Program(s):   AG   DEV   HC   HE

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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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w18589

Published:

  • Christina Gathmann & Marijke Welisch, 2012. "The Gorbachev Anti-Alcohol Campaign and Russia’s Mortality Crisis," CESifo DICE Report, Ifo Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 10(4), pages 62-68, December. ,
  • 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 232-60, April.

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