Overall, Russia is doing fairly well, Anton Feynberg and Yuliya Starostina of the RBC news agency say. It ranks 34th among the countries of the world. Russia has low infant and child mortality, a good length of schooling, and good examination results. The World Bank, however, couldn’t assess the share of children with developmental problems because of an absence of data.
But Russia is dragged down by the life expectancy of adults, which the World Bank rates according to the percentage of 15-year-olds who can expect to live to age 60. In Russia, only 78 percent of them can, far less than in the US, China or Germany, and slightly less than Kazakhstan, India, Ukraine, Ethiopia, Mongolia and most of the Latin American countries.
In fact, the figure for Russia is shared by the populations of Afghanistan, Sudan and Papua New Guinea. Some Russian experts have challenged the Bank’s findings, arguing that the ranking Russia has received is a statistical quirk and doesn’t reflect the actual situation on the ground.
But Anatoly Vishnevsky, the director of the Moscow Institute of Demography, says that it is entirely appropriate to focus on survival rates of adults in Russia, especially since the current figures are still below those that the country achieved between 1960 and 1965.
“When the authorities talk about increasing life expectancy in Russia,” he points out, they have in mind life expectancy at birth. That has really been increased because infant and child mortality in the country is falling, but mortality among the adult population, especially among men, remains high.”
This figure, he continues, reflects both problems with health and alcoholism and external causes like accidents, murders and suicides, Vishnevsky says.