declined by about 200,000; the struggle against alcoholism of the last few years contributed to the decline of mortality'' (Goskomstat SSSR, 1988b). Similar conclusions are reached by Shkolnikov and Nemtsov (in this volume), the author describing the campaign (White, 1996:135-160), and others.
This author believes that the beneficial demographic, health, and social effects of Gorbachev's anti-alcohol campaign have been misinterpreted and significantly overstated (see Shkolnikov and Nemtsov in this volume for a further discussion of the anti-alcohol campaign). We can start by noting that some statistical data were "doctored" or manipulated to present a more favorable picture of the campaign's results. It is now a well-established fact that Gorbachev directed Goskomstat SSSR to change the formula used in national income accounting to produce artificially high rates of growth in the 1985-1987 period. 14
An earlier paper by the author questions the official position that reduced drinking resulting from the campaign contributed to the reduction of more than 100,000 deaths from cardiovascular problems during the period by noting that this number breaks down to 54 percent fewer female deaths and 46 percent fewer male deaths. Since heavy drinking, alcohol abuse, and adverse health effects are much more prevalent among men than women, a reduction in drinking should have been reflected in a proportionately higher reduction in male deaths.15
Perhaps the most striking statement about the effects of the campaign was recently made by the eminent Russian specialist in alcoholism Dr. Alexander Nemtsov (1995:46), who said that "the anti-drinking campaign saved 700,000 lives in Russia in 1985-1987." This estimate is based on a rather simplistic manipulation of statistics and cannot be accepted as valid.16
There are other reasons to question the excessively favorable interpretations of the effects of the anti-alcohol campaign offered by some authors. Deceptions and distortions in official statistics were practiced for many years in the Soviet Union, both at the very top of the government and at lower levels. Thus the local police units may have classified traffic accidents caused by drunken drivers as not related to drinking in order to impress their superiors; for the same reason, local medical authorities may have been tampering with reports by lowering the number of fatal alcohol poisonings. Another possible source of falsification is the drinkers themselves. For example, regulations introduced in the course of the reform prohibited awards of sick leave to drinkers who suffered trauma while intoxicated. To avoid this, an intoxicated man who, say, fell down and hurt himself might wait for several hours to lower his blood alcohol level before seeing a doctor. This, of course, would lower the number of traumas recorded as resulting from intoxication, but not the total number.
Alcoholic psychoses, chronic alcoholism, and cirrhosis of the liver take several years to develop in an average drinker. Would the effects of the reduction in drinking on these diseases be reflected in alcohol mortality as is rapidly as is recorded in official statistics?
There is no question that the administrative measures of 1985-1987 and the