of an appropriate standard pattern of mortality to assess data quality and in the use of such a pattern to establish deaths for the purpose of assessing potential years of life lost to premature mortality. Several of the chapters in the first part of this volume address quality-of-data issues. Two of the chapters—those by Kingkade and Arriaga and by Murray and Bobadilla—examine the potential years of life lost to premature mortality. Generally, potential years of life lost is calculated by comparing actual with expected deaths, where expected deaths are based on a standard age pattern of mortality appropriate to a region. To determine health priorities within the different regions of Russia, appropriate standards on which to base expected deaths must be selected, unless an arbitrary age at which all life ceases is chosen.
Previous work has investigated levels of life expectancy, spatial differentials, and age-specific components of life expectancy within European Russia (Shkolnikov and Vassin, 1994). This paper expands that spatial analysis to include both the European and Asian parts of Russia, introduces data on cause of death, and examines differentials not only in the level but also the shape (age pattern) of mortality profiles for the years 1988-1989.
Establishing the underlying age patterns of Russian mortality at the end of the 1980s is particularly pertinent in the context of long-term change within Russia. The election of Gorbachev to the position of General Secretary occurred in March 1985. Less than two months later (May 7, 1985), a resolution for ''actions against drunkenness and alcoholism" was issued. Three weeks later, the anti-alcohol campaign had begun. This campaign, which lasted to the end of 1987 (see Nemcov, 1995), had the effect of reducing regional differences in mortality as well as the characteristically high excess mortality among middle-aged Russian males. The collapse of the political and economic structure of the Soviet Union occurred over the period 1989-1991. Thus the years 1988-1989 serve as a benchmark for mortality patterns in Russia. Moreover, since the subsequent social upheaval has been suspected of disrupting the state statistical system, it is appropriate to use the years 1988-1989 as baseline data against which to measure future change. In addition, the census of 1989 provides the most reliable age structure by province, and the use of two years of death data improves the reliability of the estimates. Finally, this period preceded the accelerated mortality observed during 1992-1993.
The next section of this chapter describes the data sources and methods used for the analysis. This is followed by discussion of the variation in mortality levels in Russia in 1988-1989 by selected causes of death: injuries, cardiovascular disease, and neoplasm. The discussion addresses basic differentials in male-female and rural-urban mortality, regional and provincial variation in mortality levels, and regional variation in cause-specific mortality. Differences in underlying age patterns of mortality are then investigated through the use of cluster analysis for the mathematical grouping of provincial life tables, which results in a set of "typical" age patterns of mortality for males and females for different