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The controversy over sell-offs and mortality in the former USSR deserves a more precise treatment here. The original story about the Lancet article appeared in the Financial Times on Jan. 15. Jeffrey Sachs replied on Jan. 19 to the FT, pointing out that shock therapy did not lead to higher mortality in Poland and other East European countries. He cited poor diet as the cause of a higher death rate in the former USSR. Anders Åslund wrote to the FT on Jan. 26 arguing that the Lancet authors had advanced a monocausal theory of post-Soviet mortality and had "ignored all measurements and analyses that do not suit them." The authors of the Lancet study (David Stuckler, Department of Sociology, Oxford University; Lawrence King, Deprtment of Sociology, Cambridge University; Martin McKee, Professor of Public Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine) responded to Sachs on Jan. 22 (apparently they have not responded to Aslund): "Prof Sachs seems unaware of the causes of the post-Soviet mortality crisis. He argues that Russia’s devastating mortality surge in the 1990s resulted from diets high in saturated fats and red meat, dating back to the 1960s. While poor diets are a factor in the underlying death rate, they cannot plausibly explain the massive fluctuations that occurred at this time. Instead, there is a wealth of evidence that these additional deaths were substantially due to changes in hazardous drinking. . . . it can be argued that the countries Prof Sachs cites as successes were only successful because they did not follow his advice. He lobbied publicly and privately for radical privatisation programmes in Poland and Slovenia, yet both countries were very slow to privatise their large enterprises and instead used the “British-style” case-by-case method which Prof Sachs warned against. Only the Czech Republic implemented a sizeable mass privatisation programme – which was universally seen to be a disaster, and many of the companies had to be renationalised, restructured and reprivatised on a case-by-case basis. The country avoided the premature deaths experienced elsewhere because of a relatively high level of social capital, high levels of welfare support, and very low unemployment rates, as predicted by our model." Therefore the Lancet authors most certainly did say that the excess mortality in the former USSR was preventable; a faulty policy of shock therapy applied there in a different way and in different conditions than in Eastern Europe led to the higher death rate. Robert W. Thurston Phillip R. Shriver Professor of History Department of History Miami University Oxford, Ohio 45056 USA office phone 513-529-5136 fax 529-3224 home 513-523-0552 latest cell: 513-328-7062 web site http://www.users.muohio.edu/thurstrw/ ________________________________________ From: H-Net Russian History list [H-RUSSIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU] On Behalf Of Dave Pretty [prettyd@WINTHROP.EDU] Sent: Sunday, February 15, 2009 12:00 PM To: H-RUSSIA@H-NET.MSU.EDU Subject: Re: Soviet sell-offs led to deaths, says study Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 16:40:03 +0300 From: Gijs Kessler <email@example.com> The article you are referring to appeared in The Lancet: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(09)60005-2/fulltext As much as it attributes the rise in mortality to the effects of shock- therapy, it does not in any way state state these deaths were "preventable". Whether they were "preventable" or not ultimately depends on one's assessment of the long-term viability of the soviet system. For further reading cf. a.o.: Brainerd, Elizabeth and David M. Cutler, "Autopsy on an Empire: Understanding Mortality in Russia and the Former Soviet Union", CEPR Discussion Paper, no. 4900, Centre for Economic Policy Research, London, 2005. Abstract: "Male life expectancy at birth fell by over six years in Russia between 1989 and 1994. Many other countries of the former Soviet Union saw similar declines, and female life expectancy fell as well. Using cross-country and Russian household survey data, we assess six possible explanations for this upsurge in mortality. Most find little support in the data: the deterioration of the health care system, changes in diet and obesity, and material deprivation fail to explain the increase in mortality rates. The two factors that do appear to be important are alcohol consumption, especially as it relates to external causes of death (homicide, suicide, and accidents) and stress associated with a poor outlook for the future. However, a large residual remains to be explained." Gijs Kessler International Institute of Social History Amsterdam, The Netherlands On 20 Jan 2009, at 16:23, Dave Pretty wrote: > > Date: Thu, 15 Jan 2009 10:07:46 -0500 > From: Grover Furr, Fastmail <firstname.lastname@example.org> > > > > An article in today's Financial Times reports a study that a million > preventable deaths in the former Soviet bloc were caused by the > "shock" introduction of capitalism in the early '90s. > > Some years ago I read _Belaia Kniga_, ed. S.G. Kara-Murza. It makes > the case that the cost of abolishing social welfare programs in > Russia was huge, the situation a true catastrophe. > > Stephen F. Cohen has written along similar lines, e.g. in "American > Journalism and Russia's Tragedy" _The Nation_ October 2, 2000. > > I'd like to ask listmembers: What other studies are there of the > public health, welfare, demographic, and other costs of the drastic > switch from socialism to capitalism in the early 90s? > > Grover Furr > Montclair State U. > > >