Russian model of epidemiologic transition: historical peculiarities (late XIX - first half of the XX centuries)

Denis Ananyev, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Vladimir Isupov, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Vladimir Lamin, Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The paper deals with historical issues related to the epidemiologic transition in Russia. Although it is believed that epidemiologic transition occurs in all countries and continents, each country has its specifics. In Russia due to the government's dominant role and the ensuing political factors epidemiological transition was a discontinuous, pulsed process with several false starts. The first signs, albeit feeble, of epidemiologic transition were registered in demographic history of Russia in the late XIX century. However, after the outbreak of the World War I this process was interrupted. Demographic trends became positive only in the 1920s, after the end of the Civil war, when social and political stability was achieved. There was a tendency to overcome the consequences of the profound disaster. The new government, frightened of the powerful epidemics, did much to promote health and sanitation and to improve the standards of living of the people. However, in the early 1930s this attempt also proved to be a false start due to Stalin's political decision to accelerate the pace of industrialization and to carry out forced collectivization which led to another demographic catastrophe. Tendency towards the new start of epidemiologic transition manifested itself only in the second half of the 1930s, when Russia recovered from the famine of 1932-1933. The process was interrupted again when Russia entered World War II. However, in those Soviet territories that had not been under Nazi occupation population dynamics seemed paradoxical and unusual. As a result of reduction in deaths from exogenous causes (acute infections, gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases) the age-sex structure of dead individuals changed towards a higher old-age share. Based on extensive archival research, the authors argue that since 1943 Russia had witnessed the first signs of demographic transition which proved to be the most successful attempt.

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 Presented in Session 9. Health and mortality in the past