Determinants of political participation and electoral turnout are still of great interest within political science and three broad types of factors have been found to influence turnout significantly; individual or area-specific traits, characteristics of the electoral systems, and features relating to the political climate in individual elections. Within the first group, socio-economic resources, typically education, income, and occupation, have been found to be particularly important. This article proposes that public health is also a relevant form of social and political resources at the aggregate level. Regional data on life expectancy and electoral turnout from Russia—a country with dramatically deteriorated public health during the 1990s—were therefore correlated with each other. Overall, correlations were positive and significant, and there is, then, reason to investigate further the possible relationship between public health and the propensity to turn out at elections.
From the mid 1980s mortality levels have fluctuated greatly in the former Soviet Union. After dropping substantially during the late 1980s, mortality rose to unprecedented levels during the early 1990s. The sharp fluctuations in mortality are commonly linked to variations in alcohol consumption in connection with the anti-alcohol campaign launched in 1985. This large-scale natural alcohol policy experiment has produced very mixed appraisal and this article provides a systematic review of the wide variety of judgments, focusing on goals, implementation, and effects on life expectancy, alcohol consumption, mortality, crime, etc. Deviant evaluations are in part ascribable to a general schism between narrowly focused epidemiological perspectives on public health interventions and broader social science approaches to political reform.