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Deindustrialization and the Postsocialist Mortality Crisis


Abstract

An unprecedented mortality crisis struck Eastern Europe during the transition from socialism to capitalism. Working-class men without a college degree suffered the most. Some argue that economic dislocation caused stress and despair, leading to adverse health behavior and ill health (dislocation-despair approach). Others suggest that hazardous drinking inherited as part of a dysfunctional working-class culture and populist alcohol policy were the key determinants (supply-culture approach). We enter this debate by performing the first quantitative analysis of the association between economic dislocation in the form of industrial employment decline and mortality in postsocialist Eastern Europe. We rely on a novel multilevel dataset, fitting survival and panel models covering 52 towns and 42,800 people in 1989-1995 in Hungary and 514 medium-sized towns in the European part of Russia. The results show that deindustrialization was significantly associated with male mortality in both countries directly and indirectly mediated by adverse health behavior as a dysfunctional coping strategy. Both countries experienced severe deindustrialization, but social and economic policies seem to have offset Hungary’s more immense industrial employment loss. The policy implication is that social and economic policies addressing the underlying causes of stress and despair can improve health.


Working paper available for download: https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/jpbct


Cite as:

Scheiring, Gábor, Aytalina Azarova, Darja Irdam, Katarzyna J. Doniec, Martin McKee, David Stuckler and Lawrence King. 2021. “Deindustrialization and the Postsocialist Mortality Crisis.” Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), Working Paper Series, Number 541, April 2021, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. DOI: 10.31235/osf.io/m5r78


Did Alcohol Policy Really Cause the Postsocialist Mortality Crisis? Revisiting the Rebound and Affordability Hypotheses


Abstract

This article reexamines the argument that alcohol policies were the major factor behind the mortality crisis in postsocialist Russia. We show that the correlation between the Gorbachev anti-alcohol campaign (rebound hypothesis), alcohol prices in the 1990s (affordability hypothesis), and mortality reported in previous analyses is not robust to splitting oblasts into Far-East and the rest of Russia. Our analysis conducted on a sample of 534 towns in the European part of Russia also finds no robust evidence supporting the two hypotheses. In contrast, findings linking privatization to mortality are robust to controlling for the anti-alcohol campaign and the affordability of alcohol.


Working paper available for download: https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/eq7gw


Cite as: Azarova, Aytalina, Gábor Scheiring, Michael Ash and Lawrence King. 2021. “Did Alcohol Policy Really Cause the Postsocialist Mortality Crisis? Revisiting the Rebound and Affordability Hypotheses.” Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), Working Paper Series, Number 540, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. DOI: 10.31235/osf.io/eq7gw