Three Views of the Russian Mortality Crisis: Hazardous Drinking, SES Differentials, and Homelessness

  • Friday, Apr 23, 2010
  • On April 23, 2010, Dr. William Alex Pridemore, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Criminal Justice at Indiana University and Associate Director, Consortium for Education and Social Science Research,  delivered a lecture on the  “Three  Views of the Russian Mortality Crisis: Hazardous Drinking, SES Differentials, and Homelessness.” The event was moderated by Dr. Judyth Twigg, Associate Professor, School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University.

    Dr. Pridemore presented his research on three separate factors that contribute to mortality in Russia. Special attention was given to the level of hazardous drinking in Russia and the deleterious effects this has on the health profile of the country, specifically for the working age male population (25-54 years of age). Increased alcohol consumption through conventional beverages, as well as consumption of alcohol via surrogate fluids with ethanol (cologne, cleaning fluid, lighter fluids, etc.) creates greater instances of premature mortality, and the deaths linked to large intakes of alcohol. Still, the greatest cause of death in Russia is heart disease, ischemic heart disease (IHD), which coincidentally increases proportionate to the increases in cases of alcohol abuse.

    Additionally, the socioeconomic status of Russians has a high correlation with the level of education attained. Pridemore’s studies show that less educated Russians have a higher likelihood of premature mortality than do Russians with greater education. Despite this conclusion, the situation in Russia has not improved—and the life expectancy of males, remains low (approximately 59 at birth).

    Dr. Pridemore’s third approach to Russian mortality looked at the effects of homelessness on Russia’s health profile. Russia’s death records are inaccurate because of the difficulty in recording the deaths of the homeless. Often times, the homeless do not even have a domestic passport and are classified as “unidentifiable”. This skews the statistics of death rates in Russia and under-represents the actual number of deaths.

    The discussion following Dr. Pridemore’s presentation raised questions about the design method of his study, the definitions employed, the survey questions used, and ways that his study could elicit an adequate policy response from the Russian government.”

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