Subjective Inequality, Social Cohesion and Political Reforms: An Example of Russia

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 14:55
Location: Hörsaal BIG 2 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Victoria DUDINA, St. Petersburg State University, Russia
The sharp increase in mortality of the population of Russia in the 1990s, called “mortality crisis”, attracted attention of researchers and led to a whole range of explanations. In spite of different explanations of mortality crisis, substantial and short-term increase in life expectancy in 1985 - 1987 years in the Soviet Union by 2.8 years for men and 1.3 years for women is explained solely by the positive impact of anti-alcohol campaign. Such explanations cannot reveal the other important factors contributed to mortality reduction during this period. The reduction of mortality was influenced not only by anti-alcohol campaign, but by short-term reduction of subjective inequality and recovery of social cohesion in the beginning of Perestroika.

The hypothesis of influence of subjective inequality on life expectancy in the early years of Perestroika is supported by the fact that life expectancy changed simultaneously not only with the level of alcohol consumption, but also with the changes in public attitudes. Three stages of Perestroika corresponding to well-marked differences in some demographics are considered.

It is concluded that changes of the political climate could help to reduce subjective inequality and have a positive impact on social well-being, the level of social stress and, ultimately, on the health and life expectancy. But if the reduction of subjective inequality is not supported by decrease in objective measures of inequality, it could have only a short-term impact on health.