Crime And Poverty Are Causes Of Health Crisis In Russia

July 31, 1998

(Economic change, crime and mortality crisis in Russia: regional analysis)

The scale of the health crisis facing the Russian people in recent years is now well recognised - life expectancy in Russia fell by over five years between 1990 and 1994. In this week's BMJ Professor Martin McKee from the European Centre on Health of Societies in Transition at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, along with colleagues from Sweden and Russia, report that the decline in life expectancy in Russia cannot be attributed solely to impoverishment.

The authors surprisingly found that the greatest falls in life expectancy have been in some of the wealthiest regions and they argue that much of the deterioration can be explained by labour force turnover, crime rates (which indicate a breakdown in social cohesion) and income inequality. Professor McKee et al also believe that alcohol is a major factor in many of the additional deaths. They conclude that understanding changes in mortality in central and eastern Europe during the transition (following the collapse of communism) may shed light on some of the determinants of health in the Western World.

Contact:
Professor Martin McKee, European Centre on Health of Societies in Transition, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London
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BMJ

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