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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: July 2010

5 - Infant mortality


We saw in the previous chapter that available data allow us to make only speculative inferences about the impact on mortality of such major events as the war and the postwar famine. We have a rough idea of how many people died in the urban areas of the RSFSR, their age and gender, and why they died. We cannot, however, calculate standardized, age-specific death rates. Although demographers have attempted to assess yearly changes in the RSFSR population as a whole, once we move down to regional comparisons the data for the early postwar years are almost totally missing. In 1956, the RSFSR Statistical Administration (the republican arm of the TsSU) made local population estimates based on the 1939 census and for the years 1948–1955, but conspicuously absent here are figures for the war years and the years of the postwar food crisis. Even the 1948–1955 data are of limited utility, because they are gross estimates for local populations as a whole, and not broken down by age and gender. Thus, detailed systematic comparisons of regional mortality trends over time remain difficult, if not impossible. There is another measure we can use, however, which does permit such comparisons, namely infant mortality. The Central Statistical Administration tabulated births and deaths, including infant deaths, in each locality. From these we can calculate what percentage of babies born in a given year survived until their first birthday – the standard measure of infant mortality.