We examined the role of socio-economic status (SES) and marital status in premature mortality among working-age Russian males. Life expectancy among this group dropped sharply following the collapse of the Soviet Union and has yet to recover despite the relative economic and political stability of the last decade.
We employed individual-level data from a large-scale, population-based, case-control study (n = 3500). Adjusting for age group, hazardous drinking and smoking status, we estimated mortality odds ratios to determine the impact of SES and marital status on premature mortality due to all, alcohol- and non-alcohol-related causes of death.
Results revealed clear protective effects of SES and marital status against premature mortality. Although the effects for marital status were significant across alcohol- and non-alcohol-related causes of death, the effects of SES were largely limited to non-alcohol-related causes of death. When heavy drinkers were excluded from the analysis, however, SES was found to protect against premature mortality for alcohol-related causes.
While hazardous drinking is known to be a leading cause of premature mortality among working-age Russian males, it is unwise to ignore other factors. Given the substantial social and economic impacts in Russia of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, it is important to examine the health effects of SES and marital status and other social forces in the nation. Our results reveal that while Russia has a very different past in terms of medicine, public health and economic institutions, it currently faces public health threats that follow similar patterns to those found in Western nations.
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