In Latvia, the rural population comprises predominantly ethnic Latvians (72 percent in 1989), while the urban population contains a high proportion of ethnic Russians (41 percent). In the traditionally Moslem NIS countries, Russians and members of other European groups are concentrated in urban areas. The rapid increase in the implied expectation of life at birth with increasing age for rural males in Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan is not plausible. If detailed mortality data were available by urban-rural residence and ethnic group within the former republics of the Soviet Union, the actual sources of these strange patterns would be clear. We think the figures for Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan would be similar, even if data only for the indigenous ethnic group were shown.
We have much less faith in rural than in urban data both because rural deaths (especially infant deaths) appear to be much less well enumerated than urban and because we find indirect evidence of many rural deaths being attributed to urban populations (Anderson and Silver, 1994b). Usually, mortality conditions are better in urban than in rural locales (United Nations, 1980:34; 1982b:88,106, 136, 164). Worse urban than rural mortality and crossovers in mortality rates between urban and rural areas provide evidence to support the conclusion that the actual mortality rates in rural areas have been much higher than the reported rates.19
We think rural mortality rates at older ages are underestimated for a combination of reasons: exaggeration of age in the census (or base population estimate), exaggeration of reported ages at death, and underregistration of deaths. Our research in Xinjiang in Chinese Central Asia, however, suggests that underregistration of deaths may not be the main culprit. Uighurs outnumber Han Chinese in Xinjiang. In addition, in the data from China we used, deaths were reported in the census rather than in the vital registration system. However, even when life tables for Uighurs in Xinjiang are constructed on the basis of census data alone (using the count of persons by age in the population and the reported deaths of persons by age in the 6 months preceding the census), patterns of implausible mortality rates at older ages similar to those in the former Soviet Central Asian republics appear in the Uighur population of Xinjiang (Anderson and Silver, 1994c).
Figures 4-5a through d show data for Latvia, Russia, and Uzbekistan for 1990. If these data are to be believed, males in rural Uzbekistan had much better mortality conditions than males in rural Russia and Latvia; the comparison is similar, but less extreme, for urban males. The mortality levels for females in all three former republics are similar. We do not think it possible that the actual mortality rates of males were lower in rural Uzbekistan than in rural Latvia in 1990.
Figures 4-6a and b show the implied expectation of life at birth for males and females in the six traditionally Moslem republics. Among those republics, Kazakstan and Azerbaijan have a relatively high level of socioeconomic development, and Tajikistan and Uzbekistan a relatively low level. One would suppose that the implied expectation of life at birth would be higher in the more-devel-