Historical Persistence of Alcohol-Induced Mortality in the Russian Federations: Legacy of Early Industrialization
Aims. The study aims to investigate insofar regional differences in alcohol-induced mortality in Russia, which emerged during the early industrialization of the country, persisted over a prolonged period of time (from late nineteenth to early twenty-first century), surviving fundamental political and social changes Russia experienced.
Methods. Multivariate regression models with historical and contemporary data on alcohol-induced mortality in Russian regions were estimated to document the persistence of spatial patterns of mortality, as well as to identify the possible mediating variables. Numerous robustness checks were used to corroborate the results.
Results. Alcohol-induced male mortality in Russian regions in 1880s–1890s is significantly and strongly correlated with male mortality due to accidental alcohol poisoning in Russian regions in 2010–2012. For female mortality, no robust correlation was established. The results for male mortality do not change if one controls for a variety of other determinants of alcohol-induced mortality and are not driven by outlier regions. Consumption of strong alcohol (in particular vodka) appears to be the mediator variable explaining this persistence.
Conclusions. Hazardous drinking behavioral patterns, once they emerge and crystalize during the periods of fragmentation of the traditional society and the early onsets of modernization and urbanization, can be extremely persistent. Even highly intrusive policy interventions at a later stage (like those of the Soviet government) may turn out to be insufficient to change the path-dependent outcomes.