This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Life Expectancy Showing Signs of Improvement in Russia

For several decades now, life expectancy has been lower in Russia than in any other country of the Global North. Indeed, as I note in Chapter 5, the declines in mortality among infants and among men in Russia were among the early signs that the Soviet Union was in serious trouble, prior to its dissolution. But, things seem to be changing, finally. A team of researchers has just published a paper in Demographic Research showing that life expectancy has been steadily rising in Russia since 2004.
Like the previous mortality fluctuations that have occurred in Russia since the mid-1980s, the increase in life expectancy was driven by deaths at ages 15 to 60 from alcohol-related causes. Uniquely in the recent period, there were also improvements at older ages, especially in cerebrovascular disease mortality among women. In addition, there were reductions in deaths from avoidable causes, such as from tuberculosis and diabetes. The life expectancy gap between Russia and Western countries remains large, and is mostly attributable to deaths from cardiovascular disease, alcohol-related conditions, and violence. 
The authors note that the life expectancy gap between males and females remains very high--63 for men and 75 for women. On top of alcohol and violence, Russian men continue to smoke a great deal and that also contributes to the gender gap. 

An interesting side note is that Russia has been a strong supporter of Assad in Syria--almost certainly a key reason why the civil war there continues as intensely as it does. Yet, prior to the civil war, Syria actually had higher life expectancy than did Russia--71 for men and 77 for women.

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