Uncovering Unusual Mortality Differentials in Central Asia

Ethan J. Sharygin, University of Pennsylvania

We identify the leading causes of death which account for the mortality gap between ethnic Russians, Kyrgyz, and Kazakhs. We compare causes of death by ethnicity, but also within ethnicity across national borders. Of particular interest is alcohol-related mortality, shown by Guillot (2011) to be the primary source of the Russian mortality gap in Kyrgyzstan. Our preliminary results for Kazakhstan suggest that adult mortality among ethnic Kazakhs is higher than among Kyrgyz and lower than among Russians. Crucially, the ethnic differential between Russians and Kazakhs in alcohol-related mortality is lower than between Russians and Kyrgyz. We attempt to explain this phenomenon by hypothesizing the existence a continuum between 'non-Russian' and 'Russian' model mortality patterns based on degree of accord to documented patterns of diet and alcohol consumption among Russians in Central Asia.

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Presented in Session 2: Mortality in Comparative Perspective