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Dead souls

Russia is in the midst of a demographic crisis. Life expectancy for men is falling precipitately and is now below the level it reached under Stalin. Andrew Cowley examines the reasons

By Andrew Cowley   October 1995

The rumours about President Boris Yeltsin’s health, or lack of it, which seep out of the Kremlin and keep Russia’s political classes chattering, miss a bigger point. By the standards of his countrymen, Yeltsin is an old man. At 64, he has lived six years beyond the average life expectancy for Russian men. Most Russian males alive today will be lucky if they live long enough to receive a pension.

Between 1987 and 1994, the number of live births recorded in Russia halved, while the number of deaths soared. In 1993, 322,000 more Russians died than in 1992. That is…

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