Russian Mortality Crisis and the Quality of Vital Statistics

  • Natalia S. GavrilovaEmail author
  • Victoria G. Semyonova
  • Elena Dubrovina
  • Galina N. Evdokushkina
  • Alla E. Ivanova
  • Leonid A. Gavrilov


Mortality from ill-defined conditions in Russia has the fastest rate of increase compared to all other major causes of death. High proportion of deaths in this category is indicative for low quality of mortality statistics. This article examines the trends and possible causes of mortality from ill-defined conditions in Russia. During 1991–2005, mortality from ill-defined conditions in Russia increased in all age groups. The pace of increase was particularly high at working ages and the mean expected age at death from ill-defined conditions has shifted to younger ages, particularly for men. The analysis of individual medical death certificates issued in Kirov and Smolensk regions of Russia demonstrate that 89–100% of working-age deaths from ill-defined conditions correspond to human bodies found in a state of decomposition. Data from Smolensk region shows that over 60% of these decedents were unemployed. Temporal trends of mortality from ill-defined conditions and injuries of undetermined intent in Moscow city suggest that deaths from the latter cause were probably misclassified as ill-defined conditions. This practice can lead to underestimation of mortality from external causes. Growing number of socially isolated marginalized people in Russia and insufficient investigation of the circumstances of their death contribute to the observed trends in mortality from ill-defined conditions.


Russia Ill-defined conditions Injuries Data quality Vital statistics Mortality 



An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Annual Meeting of the Population Association of America, March 29–April 2, 2005, Philadelphia. This study was supported in part by the Center on Demography and Economics of Aging pilot grant # P30 AG-12857-06 from the National Institute on Aging (NIA). We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their useful comments and suggestions on the topic of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Natalia S. Gavrilova
    • 1
    Email author
  • Victoria G. Semyonova
    • 2
  • Elena Dubrovina
    • 3
  • Galina N. Evdokushkina
    • 2
  • Alla E. Ivanova
    • 2
  • Leonid A. Gavrilov
    • 1
  1. 1.Center on Demography and Economics of AgingNORC at the University of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Central Research Public Health Institute at the Russian Ministry of HealthMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Kirov Department of Health Statistical OfficeKirovRussia

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