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Alcohol-Related Causes of Death and Drinking Patterns in Moldova as Compared to Russia and Ukraine


Penina, Olga (2017). Alcohol-Related Causes of Death and Drinking Patterns in Moldova as Compared to Russia and Ukraine. European Journal of Population, 33(5), 679-700. PMCID: PMC6241027


Most studies dedicated to alcohol-related mortality in the former USSR countries explore the situation primarily in Russia and Belarus, while somewhat less so in Ukraine. In these countries, the consumption of spirits is one of the main contributors to a huge decline in adult health since the mid-60s, especially among males. Moldova, also an ex-Soviet country, is quite different in that their drinking habits are much closer to those of the Mediterranean drinking culture, although they are still like Russia and Ukraine in that their level of alcohol consumption is among the highest in the world while life expectancy at birth is one of the lowest among developed countries. This study provides a descriptive analysis of the changes in alcohol-related mortality trends and drinking patterns in Moldova as compared to Ukraine and Russia, both during the Soviet period and after Independence. We found that accidental poisoning by alcohol in Moldova is of minor importance in contrast to Russia and Ukraine, whereas very high liver cirrhosis mortality without a traditional sex gap is a peculiar feature of the Moldovan mortality pattern. Furthermore, the burden of liver cirrhosis accounts for much lower Moldovan female life expectancy compared to their Russian or Ukrainian counterparts. We attempt to explain this phenomenon by hypothesizing the existence of harmful drinking habits of homemade wine consumption in Moldova, which seems to affect males and females equally. In Moldova, the anti-alcohol policies must include the measures aimed at reducing the consumption of homemade wine.


doi: 10.1007/s10680-017-9450-4

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

European Journal of Population


Penina, Olga