Changes in drinking habits and alcohol-related mortality in Eastern Europe

Olga Penina, Academy of Sciences of Moldova
France Meslé, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Jacques Vallin, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

Excessive consumption of alcohol is one of the main reasons for lower life expectancy at birth in Eastern Europe, in former European USSR republics in particular, compared to Western countries. In former Soviet Union states, the Gorbachev anti-alcohol campaign showed an enormous dependence of adult mortality on alcohol consumption and a very wide range of causes of death linked to this habit. However, not all post-Soviet countries experienced the same drinking habits in the common Soviet past, and not all of them followed the same path after the collapse of the communist regime. For Russia and Ukraine, the traditional representatives of the Nordic type of alcohol consumption, mortality from violent deaths plays the leading role in alcohol-related mortality, while Moldova that is much closer to Mediterranean drinking culture experiences much less problems with acute alcoholism but by far much higher mortality from liver cirrhosis. Based on continuous cause-of-death time series available for a few ex-Soviet countries (Ukraine, Moldova, Russia) since the mid-1960s and the official statistical data on alcohol consumption, we analyse the different patterns of alcohol-related mortality in relation to the changes in drinking habits in these countries.

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Presented in Session 67: Special thematic session on transitions: opportunities and threats