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Главная arrow English arrow Russian Demographic Crisis in Cross-National Perspective
Russian Demographic Crisis in Cross-National Perspective Версия в формате PDF 
Написал AK   
15.01.2015

Russian Demographic Crisis in Cross-National Perspective

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Source: Russia and Globalization: Identity, Security, and Society in an Era of Change / Ed. by D. W. Blum, p. 37–78. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008.

 

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"Russian Cross"; the black curve reflects the death rate dynamics, the red one corresponds to the birth rate (per thousand)

 

 

To briefly review our major findings, the main factors of excessive mortality in Russia are spirit and drug (especially injective drug) consumption; the post-Perestroika economic crisis affected mortality much less substantially. In Russia between 1990 and 2001, alcohol alone caused the deaths of roughly seven million people, which exceeds the number of deaths caused by terrorist attacks (outside of Chechnya) by several thousand times. This was especially due to the consumption of hard liquor, which affects mortality far more powerfully than wine and beer consumption. Drug use was a significant additional factor responsible for these ravages, and at this point at least 5% of Russia's young population are doomed to die at an early age due to opiate and ephedrine based drug use. Finally, by causing excessive male mortality, hard liquor and injective drugs consumption also contribute to low fertility. The notorious “Russian cross” is explained by these factors. In sum, hard liquor and drugs constitute real threats to national security. 

 

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Russian Demographic Crisis in Cross-National Perspective[1]

Andrey Korotayev and Darya Khalturina

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Introduction

          Globalization has radically changed demographic processes in all parts of the world, including Russia. However, we argue that it is important to consider globalization in long-term perspective. Before the start of the modern phase of the globalization (that is, most of history) humankind remained at the first phase of demographic transition, characterized by very high fertility and mortality rates, very low life expectancies (for both males and females), and very low levels of per capita GDP.[i] At present only a few least-developed countries (mostly in tropical Africa) remain close to this situation. Here (in the range of $400–3000 of per capita GDP) even a very small growth in per capita GDP leads to considerable growth of life expectancy for both males and females (from less than 30 to almost 70 years). This is achieved through the elimination of famine, introduction of cheap medicines, improvements in sanitation, and so on. From this perspective, globalization has positively affected demographic and social dynamics nearly all over the world.

However, in the range between $3000 and $10000 the correlation between per capita GDP growth and increase in life expectancy drops almost to zero. Indeed, the average life expectancy in countries with per capita GDP between $3000 and $4000 is about 69 years, whereas in countries with per capita GDP between $8000 and $11000 the average life expectancy for males is around 70 years (that is higher by just а year). Of course, in the richest countries of the world (i.e., with per capita GDP of more than $25000) the average life expectancy for males is significantly higher still – 75.6 years. However, this increase is achieved through the investment of billions of dollars in modern health care.[ii]

What is striking is that life expectancy in Russia (and the other culturally similar countries of the former Soviet Union) is anomalously low for the level of economic development achieved by these countries. Indeed, dozens of countries with much smaller per capita GDP have much higher life expectancies.[iii] This is attributable to anomalously high mortality rates, which powerfully affects the demographic situation in Russia. Moreover, it has occurred at a time of rapidly increasing globalization. In the following sections we argue that this pattern is explainable largely due to widespread, rapid alcohol consumption among men (in addition to other, secondary factors).

 

Comparative Demographic Dynamics in the Former USSR

The collapse of the Soviet Union was accompanied by a demographic crisis, the so-called “Russian Cross” (see Fig. 1).

 

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[1] The authors would like to acknowledge support provided for the writing of this article by the Russian Humanitarian Scientific Foundation (Grant Number 06-06-020-72 for the project, “Demographic Processes as Factors of the Image of Russia in the Modern World”), and by the Russian Foundation for the Support of National Science.



[i] For more detail see Andrey Korotayev, A. Malkov, and Darya Khalturina, Introduction to Social Macrodynamics: Compact Macromodels of the World System Growth (Moscow: KomKniga/URSS, 2006).

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Ibid. 

 

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