Op-Ed: Russia's Health Crisis Belies Its Economic Success

Russia's economic transformation due to its oil wealth is well-known, but not so the state of its public health which shows an alarming contrasting picture.
October 28, 2008, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"Russia's per capita income level has risen by about 80 percent over the past decade (thanks largely to the oil and gas boom, yet Russia is in the midst of a genuine demographic disaster from which its rulers have no obvious exit strategy. The human foundations of the Russian nation - the ultimate sources of the country's wealth and power - are in increasingly parlous straits.

Despite net immigration since the end of Communism, the Russian Federation's population is nearly seven million people smaller today than at the start of 1992. In the post-Soviet era, Russia has seen three deaths for every two births.

In 2006, overall life expectancy in Russia, at fewer than 67 years, was actually lower than it had been at the end of the 1950s, nearly half a century earlier. For a literate, urbanized society during peacetime, such a monumental public health failure is an extraordinary historical anomaly."

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Published on Saturday, October 25, 2008 in The New York Times
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