Russia fact of the day

Russia’s average annual alcohol consumption has reached 15 litres (26 pints) per person, nearly tripling the 1990 average of 5.4 litres, the country’s consumer protection agency said Monday.

Of course that’s both good news and bad news.  Here is the link, which reports that 12 percent of all deaths in Russia are alcohol-related.


26 pints doesn't seem like all that much--roughly 78 cans of 12 oz. beer. That's not even 2 a week. is this figure right, or am I missing something?

How is this good news?

Increased consumption is probably a result of increased wages and/or cheaper vodka. That's how.

"Increased consumption is probably a result of increased wages and/or cheaper vodka. That's how."

coupled with "12 percent of all deaths in Russia are alcohol-related", that seems like a very dubious statement.

I would consider it more analogous to something like "Flynt, MI, has had a tripling in the number of lottery tickets purchased per person. Of course that's both good news and bad news."

Less obvious to me is how it actually is good news in any way, unless you sell alchohol in Russia.

How often a drunkard substitutes between different drinks, like Brandy,Whisky,Gin,Rum,Vodka etc? Or do they adhere lifelong to only one variety, for example Rum only? Put in another way do drunkards constitute homogenous groups in the matter of consumption of a particular type drink? How do the liquor companies decide about the proportion of Brandy,Whisky,Gin,Rum,Vodka etc to be manufactured in a year? Inshort is there exists a relation between drunkard preferences and the combinations of various type liquors produced?

A real boozer in Russia, in most cases, would choose the easiest available stuff to drink. And if he is a seasoned alcoholic, then chances are high that he does not have much money to be really picky. Next, many drunkards are of middle age or older. In Soviet time, everything but vodka or cheap wine was considered luxury. Hence, it is vodka what those people drink, or vodka mixed up with something if they still want to pretend having a taste. If there will be no vodka, they might also drink eau-de-cologne, and this is not even the worst option.

Maybe he means that there is also good news? The story notes that alcohol related deaths declined from 2005 to 2006 by about 1/3 (~42k -> ~28k)


In his papers on the dire state of Russian demographics, Nicholas Eberstadt frequently cites a study (done in one city, so who knows how well it extrapolates to the whole of Russia) that found that over 40% of men dying of injuries or of cardiovascular disease (the two leading causes of death for young and middle aged men in Russia), were intoxicated at the time of death.

I wonder if grain alchohol could be a Giffen good.

Rob and Coach -- If Russians have the ability to buy more vodka (either because they are earning more now than they were in 1990 or because the enterprises supplying vodka have become more efficient than they were in 1990), then the increased ability to buy vodka is, in this respect, "good news." Increased real wages and increased business productivity are good things. We may prefer to see Russia's increased wealth/productivity manifested in ways other than increased consumption of vodka (and it would almost have to be). But the good of having more purchasing power is not outweighed by the fact that some people use that purchasing power in ways we don't approve of.

Russian girls tend to prefer foreigner guys to Russian men, due to their infidelity, drunkenness etc. There is a whole literature on how Russian girls dislike Russian guys. So we are witnessing selection effects already.

Sergey - sample bias dude. I severely doubt Russian guys who speak English, have good jobs and read MR are drunkards, or are friends with drunkards. Anecdotes don't undermine the stats.

If I recall, Vladimir refused conversion to Islam back in 988 because, among other things, "drink was the joy of the Rus" - I tend to think they were getting hammered pretty regularly for more than a century or two...

Mike - the elite, not the masses.

"5% of alcohol did not conform to sanitary criteria"
The worrying fact is that these 5% make most reported alcohol-related deaths. They say these 5% grew from 2.6%, but i tend to believe this to be statistics error - in 2006 we had a vast campaign for vodka monopolization and they were trying to lobby nationalization of the industry, so that 100% growth was much due to government's message to bottomline police officers: "report more alcohol deaths".

In cities like Moscow seemingly there is no alcohol problem except for the drunk homeless and illegal migrants, but I believe this is much due to the fact that alcoholics do not cross often with normal people very often. But still, the situation in Moscow is better than in the depth of Russia. In a village of about 400 homes 200 miles from Moscow, where my grandma lives, there is not a single man able or at least willing to work (for very decent money). All drunk, many died. The village is not dead yet since people from Moscow/Ryazan buy homes there to serve as summer cottages.

It has been said that when Russia went Christian it was partly
because Islam forbade drinking.

This is slighty off-topic, but I cannot resist. It is the classic
story of a two-way translation program that does not quite work.
So, starting from English, going to Russian and then back, the
following occurs. "The spirit is strong, but the flesh is weak,"
comes back into English from Russian as "The vodka is strong, but
the meat is rotten."

also people of russia do you think that the war is right, killing innocent people is right?! the war between russia and chechenya i think is a perfect disaster, i do not see the point in that, to be honest with you i think that it is not a war it is a game between two not thinking about poor people goverment's.

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