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Sue Bush
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"Russia's Demographic Crisis"

12:00AM / Monday, February 19, 2007

Williamstown- Elizabeth Brainerd, associate professor of economics, will discuss "Russia's Demographic Crisis: Causes, Consequences, and Questions" on Thurs., Feb. 22, at 4 p.m. in Wege Auditorium, The Science Center at Williams College.

Brainerd's lecture is the third in the six-part Annual Faculty Lecture Series at the college. The lecture is free and the public is cordially invited to attend. A reception will follow.

Brainerd will discuss the causes and consequences of Russia's demographic crisis, which began in the early 1990s. After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian male life expectancy and overall birth rate plummeted. It has been called one of the great medical mysteries of the early 21st century.

"When other countries go through an economic crisis, you typically see an increase in mortality among the elderly and infants," said Brainerd. "It's nothing like what we see in Russia."

The life expectancy of a Russian man is 59 years, 15 years fewer than that of Western men. A Russian woman's life expectancy is 73 years old, seven years fewer than Western women. Adding to the situation, Russia's fertility rate is among the lowest worldwide with a ranking at 210 out of 220 countries.

The figures are staggering.

"I will discuss the relationship between the increase in mortality and the economic reforms that Russia undertook in the 1990s, and the reasons for the decline in the birth rate," Brainerd said. "I will also talk about the long-term consequences of these population declines for Russia."

Brainerd studies the impact of economic transition and globalization, especially in the former Soviet Union.

Her papers have appeared in the American Economic Review, Journal of Economic Perspectives, Journal of Comparative Economics, and the Industrial and Labor Relations Review. She is currently analyzing the effects of World War II on women in the Soviet Union.

Brainerd was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2005-06. From 1992 to 1993, she advised the Russian Government on economic issues.

She received her B.A. from Bowdoin College, her M.A. from Columbia University, and her Ph.D. from Harvard University.

The next lecture in the series will be presented by Liza Johnson, associate professor of art, on "Everybody Knows about Mississippi: A Film Screening of 'South of Ten' and 'Some Thoughts about American Open Secrets'" on Thursday, Mar. 1, at 4 p.m., at Images Cinema.
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