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In its last years, the Soviet Union was not meeting the needs of its citizens. One simple measure, life expectancy at age 15 years, showed the USSR to fall progressively further behind western Europe, all through the 1970s and 1980s. It was meeting material needs of its population—infant mortality was fairly low, and people had enough to eat—but not spiritual needs, to use the words of Mikhail Gorbachev, last General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Deaths from heart disease were high, as were violent and other alcohol-related deaths. The social and political causes of an unhealthy USSR may also have led to its collapse after 70 years of seemingly impregnable Communist rule. Then, after 1990, a bad health situation got worse. As the society collapsed so did life expectancy. In the 10 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were somewhere between 3 million and 7 million excess deaths.
CitationMarmot, M. Man-made Disaster, The Lancet, Volume 391, Issue 10116, P113-114, January 13, 2018
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