Where are no data: what has happened to life expectancy in Georgia since 1990?
Public Health, 115:6, 394–400 (2001)
In recent years there has been a considerable increase in understanding of changes in mortality in Russia and some other former Soviet republics. However, the situation in the republics of the Caucasus remains poorly understood. Information on Georgia is especially fragmentary as a fifth of the country remains outside government control, there has been large scale migration since 1991, and the introduction of fees for vital registration has compromised the quality of official statistics. The aim of the study is to produce plausible estimates for life expectancy in Georgia for the period 1990-1998 and thus to assess whether Georgia has undergone changes similar to other former Soviet republics in the post-independence period. Four models were used to construct life tables. Model 1 used officially published statistics on deaths and population. Model 2 applied new estimates of population derived from household surveys to the observed deaths. Model 3 adjusted model 2 for under-registration at extremes of life, with parameter estimates derived from a survey of infant mortality and comparison of observed rates with Coale-Demeny standard life tables. Model 4 arose following inspection of death rates by cause that revealed implausible discontinuities in cancer mortality rates and involved applying the estimates of under-registration that this finding implied to model 3.The four models produce quite different estimates of life expectancy, differing by 7.8 y for men and 6.8 y for women by 1998. In any of the models, however, Georgia does not appear to have experienced the marked deterioration in life expectancy seen in Russia following the transition to independence. Importantly, Georgia had also not experienced a marked improvement in life expectancy during the 1985 Soviet anti-alcohol campaign, again unlike other Soviet republics.Official statistics substantially over-estimate life expectancy at birth in Georgia. Despite undergoing a civil war, life expectancy in Georgia has been less affected by the transition than has Russia and the overall trends in mortality since the mid 1980s suggest that this may be because alcohol has played a smaller role in these changes than it did in Russia. [Journal Article; In English; England]