Advertisement

The Health and Demographic Crisis in Post-Soviet Russia: A Two-Phase Development

  • Mark G. Field
Chapter

Abstract

Among the many scourges that are haunting post-Soviet Russia is a health and demographic crisis of major proportions, with ominous implications reaching into the third millennium. Indeed, the health of the population has been one of the major casualties of the collapse of the Soviet regime, and of the transition to a new political and economic system, although the crisis had its origins considerably earlier, in the 1960s. The major aspects of that crisis consist of a yearly decrease in the size of the population, stagnant or decreased life expectancy, increased premature mortality, the return of infectious diseases, rising morbidity, a degradation of the environment, and practically every other index related to the well-being of the population, including a length of life differential between the sexes in favor of women unprecedented in peace time and unique in the world in its magnitude. Since 1994 there have been some improvements as the population adjusts to the new conditions, although it is too early to determine whether this trend will continue, given the renewed shocks caused by the economic crash of August 1998.

Keywords

Infant Mortality Russian Population Soviet Regime Soviet System Russian Woman 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    France Meslé and Vladimir Shkolnikov, “La Mortalité en Russie: une crise sanitaire en deux temps,” Revue d’Etudes Comparatives Est-Ouest 26, no. 4: 25–34.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    The expression was coined by A. Zinoviev. See Michael Ellman, “The Increase in Death and Disease Under ‘Katastroika,’” Cambridge Journal of Economics 18 (1994): 329–355, ref. 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 4.
    “Russian Population Sees Larger Decline,” The Boston Globe, 31 July 1999, A18.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Lee Hockstader, “Death and Disease Rates Soar in Russia,” Guardian Weekly, 13 March 1994, 18.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    UNICEF, Public Policy and Social Conditions: Central and Eastern Europe in Transition, Regional Monitoring Report, no. 1 (November 1993), 89 pp.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Demograficheskii Ezhegodnik 1997 (Moscow: Goskomstat Rossii, 1998)Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Naselenie Rossii 1996 (Moscow: Institut narodnokhoziastvennogo prognozirovaniia RAN, 1997), 77.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    Celestine Bohlen, “Russian Women Turning to Abortion Less Often,” The New York Times, 29 March 1999, A3.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    Mark G. Field, “The Health Crisis in the Former Soviet Union: A Report from the ‘Post-War’ Zone,” Social Science and Medicine 41, no. 11 (1995): 1469–1478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 16.
    Estestvennii dvizhenie naselenia Rossiiskoi Federatsii za 9 mesiatsev 1993 goda (Moscow: Goskomstat, 1993).Google Scholar
  11. 17.
    Nicholas Eberstadt, “Marx and Mortality: A Mystery,” The New York Times, 6 April 1994, A21.Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    Vladimir Yesipov, “St. Petersburg Will Die a Natural Death,” Kommersant-Daily, 25 August 1998, 4, translated in Current Digest of the Post-Soviet Press (CDPSP) 50, no. 34 (1998): 20.Google Scholar
  13. 19.
    See, for example, Mark G. Field, David M. Kotz, and Gene Bukhman, “Neoliberal Economic Policy, ‘State Desertion,’ and the Russian Health Crisis,” in Jim Y. Kim, Joyce V. Millen, Alec Irwin, and John Gershman, eds., Dying for Growth: Global Inequality and the Health of the Poor (Cambridge, MA: Courage Press, 2000), 155–173.Google Scholar
  14. 22.
    Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, “The Relentless Cult of Novelty and How It Wrecked the Century,” The New York Times Book Review, 7 February 1993, 3.Google Scholar
  15. 23.
    See, for instance, José Luis Bobadilla, Christine A. Costello, and Faith Mitchell, eds., Premature Death in the New Independent States (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  16. 25.
    Roland Pressat, “Une évolution anachronique: la hausse de la mortalité en Union soviétique,” Le Concours Médical 105, no. 21 (21 May 1983): 2431–2434.Google Scholar
  17. 26.
    M. N. Rutkevich, “Social Polarization,” Sociological Research: A Journal of Translations from Russia (September–October 1993): 58.Google Scholar
  18. 28.
    Slobodan Vitanovic, “La politique de culture et les transformations dans le monde actuel” (paper presented at the General Assembly of the Société Européenne de Culture, Venice, Italy, 1993).Google Scholar
  19. 29.
    Noel E. Firth and James H. Noreen, Soviet Defense Spending: A History of CIA Estimates, 1950–1990 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 1998), Figure 5.2, p. 102.Google Scholar
  20. 30.
    Sergei Khrushchev, “The Cold War through the Looking Glass,” American Heritage, October 1999, 35–50.Google Scholar
  21. 31.
    See, for example, Bill Keller, “Eclipsed: Thirty Years Ago, the Soviets Lost the Race to the Moon, They Might Have Won—If Only They Had Acted Like Good Communists,” The New York Times Magazine, 27 June 1999, 30–37, 52, 55, 61, 63.Google Scholar
  22. 32.
    Mikhail Gorbachev, Memoirs (London: Bantam Books, 1995), 277.Google Scholar
  23. 33.
    Cited in Judyth L. Twigg, “Russia’s Space Program: Continued Turmoil,” Space Policy 15 (1999): 69–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 34.
    Victor W. Sidel, “Buying Death With Taxes: Impact of Arms Race on Health Care,” in The Final Epidemic, eds. R. Adams and S. Cullen (Chicago: University of Chicago press, 1981), 40, 43–44.Google Scholar
  25. 35.
    Dwight D. Eisenhower, “The Chances for Peace” address delivered before the American Society of Newspaper Editors, April 16, 1953, in Public Papers of the Presidents, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Washington, D.C., 1953, 179–188.Google Scholar
  26. 36.
    Otto Latsis, “Conversations Overheard in Voronezh,” Izvestiia, 14 May 1996, 5. Latsis refers to the introduction of ration cards in many areas of the Soviet Union at that time, another measure reminiscent of a wartime situation.Google Scholar
  27. 37.
    Laurie Garrett, “Crumbled Empire, Shattered Health,” Newsday, 26 October 1997, A42.Google Scholar
  28. 38.
    Christopher Davis and Murray Feshbach, Rising Infant Mortality in the USSR in the 1970s (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Commerce, June 1980).Google Scholar
  29. 39.
    These figures are usually considered underestimates for purposes of international comparisons, because of the manner in which the Soviets defined infant mortality. What is important is that, in Soviet terms, the infant mortality went up. For details, see Mark G. Field, “Soviet Infant Mortality: A Mystery Story,” in Advances in International Maternal and Child Health, eds. D. B. Jelliffe and E. F. P. Jelliffe (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), 25–65.Google Scholar
  30. 40.
    “Health in Russia Is Broke, But Who Is Going To Fix It?” The Lancet 353, no. 9150 (30 January 1999): 337.Google Scholar
  31. 41.
    See, for example, Michael Wines, “Lean Times at the Russian Dinner Table,” The New York Times, 6 December 1998, section 4.Google Scholar
  32. 42.
    Cited in Peter Walberg, Martin McKee, Vladimir Shkolnikov, Laurent Chenet, and David Leon, “Economic Change, Crime, and Mortality Crisis in Russia: Regional Analysis,” British Medical Journal 317 (1 August 1998): 312–318.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 45.
    Nicholas Eberstadt, “The Demographic Disaster: The Dark Soviet Legacy,” The National Interest (Summer 1994): 53–54.Google Scholar
  34. 48.
    David Filipov, “Cure-All Gives Russian Mafia A Lease on Life,” The Boston Globe, 28 June 1999, A2.Google Scholar
  35. 49.
    E. Aavramova, Social and Demographic Dimensions of the Economic Transition: Impact on Families with Children (New York: UNICEF, 1994).Google Scholar
  36. 53.
    Vladimir Shkolnikov, Andrea G. Cornia, David A. Leon, France Meslé, “Causes of the Russian Mortality Crisis: Evidence and Interpretations,” 1998, unpublished draft.Google Scholar
  37. 54.
    For a more detailed discussion, see Vladimir Shkolnikov, Mark G. Field, and Evgenii M. Andreev, “Gender Gap in Russian Mortality in Time and Socio-Demographic Dimensions,” in Challenging Inequities in Health: From Global to Local, eds. Margaret Whitehead, Finn Diderichsen, Timothy Evans, and Abbas Bhuiya (Oxford University Press, in press).Google Scholar
  38. 55.
    Jane E. Brody, “Sex and the Survival of the Fittest: Calamities Are a Disaster for Men,” The New York Times, 24 April 1996, C5.Google Scholar
  39. 59.
    For a general examination of the relationship between demographics and the family, see Valerii V. Elizarov, “The Demographic Situation and Problems of Family Policy,” Sociological Research 38, no. 1 (January–February 1999): 79–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 60.
    Vera Sandomirski Dunham, “The Strong Woman Motif,” in The Transformation of Russian Society: Aspects of Change Since 1861, ed. Cyril E. Black (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1960), 459–483.Google Scholar
  41. 61.
    Alexander Avdeev and Alain Monnier, Mouvement de la population de la Russie 1959–1994: Tableaux Demographiques (Paris: Institut National d’Etudes Demographiques, 1996), no. 1, graphique 17, 32.Google Scholar
  42. 62.
    Peter Makara, “Policy Implications of Differential Health Status in East and West Europe: The Case of Hungary” (paper prepared for the XIIIth International Conference on the Social Sciences and Medicine, 1994). A slightly different version of this paper has been published as “Dilemmas of Health Promotion and Political Changes in Eastern Europe,” Health Promotion International 6, no. 1 (1991): 41–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 63.
    It should be noted that in state-controlled economies, economic frustrations become political frustrations because the public perceives the political sphere as the basic mechanism for distribution of all economic goods and as the source of prosperity, but also because the experience of economic problems has been infused with a sense of political injustice and moral outrage. See Peggy Watson, “Explaining Rising Mortality Among Men in Eastern Europe,” Social Science and Medicine 47, no. 7 (1995): 923–934.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 64.
    Aron Antonovsky, Health, Stress, and Coping: New Perspectives on Mental and Physical Well-Being (San Francisco: Jossey Bass, 1979).Google Scholar
  45. 66.
    France Meslé and Véronique Hertrich, “Sex Mortality Differences in the Baltic Countries” (paper presented at the International Conference of Vilnius, 8–9 October 1998, on Regularities and Inconsistencies of Demographic Development: Preconditions for the Replacement of Generations, Paris, INED, 1998).Google Scholar
  46. 69.
    Gennadi I. Gerasimov, “A Death Wish Is Haunting Russia,” The New York Times, 17 December 1994, 23.Google Scholar
  47. 71.
    Michael Specter, “Deep in the Russian Soul, A Lethal Darkness,” The New York Times, 8 June 1997, 1.Google Scholar
  48. 73.
    V. M. Shkolnikov and L. P. Malkov, Prodolzhitelnost’ zhizni v Rossii (Moscow: Tsentr demografii i ekologii cheloveka), in progress.Google Scholar
  49. 75.
    N. Rimashevskaia, “The Individual Health Potential in Russia,” The Institute of Socio-Economic Studies of the Population, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow and Amsterdam: September–October 1992), unpublished.Google Scholar
  50. 78.
    M. E. Kimmerling, “Inadequacy of the Current WHO Re-Treatment Regimen in Russia: MDRTB [multi-drug-resistant tuberculosis] in a Central Siberian Prison,” International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease (1999), in press.Google Scholar
  51. 79.
    Laurie Garrett of Newsday, cited in Murray Feshbach, “Dead Souls,” The Atlantic Monthly, January 1999, 26–28.Google Scholar
  52. 80.
    Hermann Feldmeier, “Die Rückkehr des Fleckfieber in Russland: Wiederaufleben alter Seuchen in Osteuropa,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Internationale Ausgabe, 8 March 1999, 5.Google Scholar
  53. 82.
    “Russians Have the Weakest Hearts,” Segodnia, 11 September 1997, 2, in CDPSP XLIX, no. 37 (1997): 17.Google Scholar
  54. 84.
    A recent and very useful exception is William C. Cockerham, Health and Social Change in Russia and Eastern Europe (New York: Routledge, 1999).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Mark G. Field and Judyth L. Twigg 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark G. Field

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations