Heading For An Early Grave

White males may be king in most places, but not in Russia. In addition to rampant alcoholism, men there face rising AIDS and tuberculosis rates, as well as the stresses of unemployment and the military draft. The average life expectancy for Russian men is now 59.8 years, down from 64 just before the fall of the Soviet Union. (For women it's 72.2.)

"The main problem is what we call 'unnatural causes'," says demographer Sergey Yermakov. "That includes murder, suicide and, of course, alcohol." Suicide rates among Russian men are 2.5 times higher than in Europe. The average Russian citizen drinks more than four gallons of alcohol per year, compared with two gallons a year in Britain. And 70 percent of adult Russian males smoke.

Birthrates are falling nearly as fast as male mortality. That means Russia's population is expected to shrink from 146 million today to 115 million in 50 years. Dead white males may be an issue of curricular debate for Western universities, but in Russia keeping them alive is a matter of national survival.

Join the Discussion