Russia experienced a severe health crisis in the 1990s, as reflected by a drop in life expectancy. It has been suggested in literature that this poor state of health is likely to endure and will significantly retard economic growth in the country. This paper uses evidence from other former Communist countries and studies of income–health relationship across economies to evaluate these claims. It concludes that the mortality increases of 1988–94 and 1999–2000 were the effects, rather than causes, of the economic recession. The state of health is unlikely to put a brake on future economic growth.

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