Possible explanations of the divergence in the recent mortality trends among Belarus, Lithuania, and Russia

Pavel M. Grigoriev, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Vladimir Shkolnikov, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Evgueni Andreev, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Domantas Jasilionis, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
Dmitri A. Jdanov, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research
France Meslé, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)
Jacques Vallin, Institut National d'Études Démographiques (INED)

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Belarus, Lithuania and Russia were quite comparable in terms of the socio-economic development. Despite some differences in overall mortality levels, they were also very close to each other in terms of directions of mortality trends and age- and cause-specific mortality patterns. After 1991, these countries experienced substantial political and social transformations accompanied by challenges of the transition from communist regimes towards market economy systems. The sudden changes brought numerous problems such as the rapid unemployment growth, falling of living standards, growing social and income inequalities. The mentioned above factors contributed to the significant deterioration of the health situation but the tall of the mortality crisis differed from country to country. Remarkable similarities in socio-economic and mortality trends among countries until 1991 contrast to their notable divergence during the subsequent years. Russia and Lithuania have chosen more radical ways of economic and political transformations which led to massive privatization campaigns and the establishment of fully functioning market economies in these countries. The reforms were more sustainable and systematic in Lithuania than in Russia. On the contrary, Belarus has chosen a gradual and slow transition path; it still maintains the economic system having main features of the old fashioned planned economy established during the Soviet era. The main aim of this paper is to explore whether mortality trends in Belarus, Lithuania and Russia resemble such divergent trajectories of political and socio-economic changes. Incorporating the cause of death analysis into the present comparative study aims at shedding more light on possible determinants of the recent variation in mortality levels among countries.

  See extended abstract

Presented in Session 5: Cause-of-death Contribution to Mortality Analysis