Aims and design: This study employs unique newly available Russian mortality data to examine the social connection between binge drinking and homicide in the country. SETTING, PARTICIPANTS AND MEASUREMENTS: All death certificates of those aged 20-64 years in the Udmurt Republic, Russia, were analyzed according to day and cause of death for the years 1994-98. Deaths due to alcohol poisoning were used as a proxy for binge drinking.
Findings: There was a high bivariate correlation (r = 0.75) between the daily distribution of deaths due to alcohol and homicide. The number of alcohol deaths was significantly higher on Saturdays and Sundays (presumably as a result of drinking on Friday and Saturday nights) and the number of homicide deaths was significantly higher on Fridays and Saturdays.
Conclusions: The levels of alcohol consumption and homicide in Russia are among the highest in the world, and there is mounting evidence that the two are related. Binge drinking, preference for distilled spirits and a high social tolerance for heavy drinking may act as social and cultural contextual factors that might increase the risk of violent outcomes. The high correspondence between the daily distribution of alcohol and homicide deaths provides indirect evidence for the social connection between them. While these findings do not represent a causal connection, when placed in the context of the growing literature on this topic they provide further support of an association between alcohol consumption and homicide rates in Russia and preliminary evidence for the intermediate role in this relationship played by social context.