September 07, 2009
Public Health Decline documented in Post-Communist Russia, alana.net (excerpt), republished from Jan 15, 2009
Public health suffers as former Soviet states cope with change
January 15, 2009
Rapid and widespread privatization in several former states of the Soviet Union and post-Communist East European countries in the early 1990s contributed to rising mortality rates, particularly in Russia, according to a study.
The report, published Thursday in the British medical journal The Lancet, vary from country to country, depending on the pace of privatization, the official response to unemployment and the level of support from social organizations.
The report coincides with the global financial crisis, which has sparked a debate over the social consequences of rapid economic change without strong institutions to underpin them... The authors of the report, “Mass Privatization and the Post-Communist Mortality Crisis: A Cross-National Analysis,” were David Stuckler, a sociologist at the University of Oxford; Lawrence King of Cambridge University; and Martin McKee, a professor at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
They wrote that:
“rapid mass privatization as an economic transition strategy was a crucial determinant of differences in adult mortality trends in post-communist societies.” The effect of privatization, they added, was “reduced if social capital was high. These findings might be relevant to other countries in which similar policies are being considered.”
The report asserts that in the early to mid-1990s in countries undergoing post-Soviet transformation, there were more than three million premature deaths and the region lost at least 10 million adult males. Even though the governmental and economic transitions occurred nearly two decades ago, “only a little over half of the ex-communist countries have regained their pre-transition life-expectancy levels.”
From 1991 to 1994 in Russia, life expectancy was reduced by five years, while in Croatia and Poland life expectancy steadily improved in the same period. By last year, the life expectancy of Russian men was below 60 years, compared with 67 years in 1985.
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