New perspective on geographical mortality divide in Russia: a district- level cross- sectional analysis, 2008–2012
Background. Prior studies on spatial inequalities in mortality in Russia were restricted to the highest level of administrative division, ignoring variations within the regions. Using mortality data for 2239 districts, this study is the first analysis to capture the scale of the mortality divide at a more detailed level.
Methods. Age- standardised death rates are calculated using aggregated deaths for 2008–2012 and population exposures from the 2010 census. Inequality indices and decomposition are applied to quantify both the total mortality disparities across the districts and the contributions of the variations between and within regions.
Results. Regional variations in mortality mask one- third (males) and one- half (females) of the inequalities observed at the district level. A comparison of the 5% of individuals residing in the districts with the highest and the lowest mortality shows a gap of 15.5 years for males and 10.3 years for females. The lowest life expectancy levels are in the shrinking areas of the Far East and Northwest of Russia. The highest life expectancy clusters are in the intercity districts of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, and in several science cities. Life expectancy in these best- practice districts is close to the national averages of Poland and Estonia, but is still substantially below the averages in Western countries.
Conclusion. The large between- regional and within- regional disparities suggest that national- level mortality could be lowered if these disparities are reduced by improving health in the laggard areas. This can be achieved by introducing policies that promote health convergence both within and between the Russian regions.