Recent fertility and mortality trends among aboriginal and nonaboriginal populations of central Siberia

William R. Leonard*, Anne Keenleyside, Evgueni Ivakine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


We examine mortality and fertility patterns of aboriginal (primarily Evenki and Keto) and Russian (i.e., nonaboriginal) populations from the Baykit District of Central Siberia for the period 19821994. Mortality rates in the aboriginal population of Baykit are substantially greater than those observed in the Russians and are comparable to levels recently reported for other indigenous Siberian groups. Infant mortality rates average 48 per 1000 live births among Baykit aboriginals, three times greater than the Russians of the district (15 per 1000 births) and more than double the rates for Inuit and Indian populations of Canada. Similarly, crude death rates of the Baykit aboriginals are twice as high as those observed in either the Baykit Russians or the Canadian aboriginal populations (13 vs. 6-7 deaths per 1000 individuals). Birth rates of the indigenous population of Baykit are higher than those of the Russians (33 vs. 15 births per 1000 individuals) but are comparable to those of Canadian aboriginal groups. Violence and accidents are the leading causes of adult male mortality in both ethnic groups, whereas circulatory diseases have emerged as the prime cause of death in women. The greater male mortality resulting from violence and accidents is a widely observed cross-cultural phenomenon. The emergence of circulatory diseases as a major mortality risk for women, however, appears to be linked to specific lifestyle changes associated with Soviet reorganization of indigenous Siberian societies. Marked declines in mortality and increases in fertility were observed in the Baykit aboriginal population during the mid to late 1980s with the government's implementation of anti-alcohol policies. The decline in mortality, however, was largely erased during the early 1990s, as the region became increasingly isolated and marginalized following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Demographic trends in the Baykit District suggest that because the indigenous groups have become more isolated, many are returning to a more traditional subsistence lifestyle.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-417
Number of pages15
JournalHuman Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 1997



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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