Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Window on Eurasia: Sixty Percent of Russians Today Live or Have Lived in Poverty, Moscow Study Says

Paul Goble


            Staunton, October 28 – Sixty percent of the population of the Russian Federation is either poor now or has had experience with living in poverty in the past, a figure that is no longer falling as it was a decade ago and one that means Russians may be more capable of coping with economic problems than are many in other nations lacking recent experience of that kind.


            Yekaterina Slobodenyuk, a specialist on social policy at the Moscow Higher School of Economics, focuses on the fact that the share of poor people in the Russian population has “ceased to fall,” despite what she describes as “the significant sums that have been spent in the struggle against it” and that it thus remains a “mass” phenomenon (opec.ru/1756868.html).


            In the period between 2005 and 2011, she says, only one Russian in four – 24.2 percent – did not live in poverty at one point or another, while 40 percent were what she calls “chronically poor” and another 34 percent were sometimes able to rise above the poverty line but at other points fell below it.


            Many of the poor temporarily or permanently have jobs or pensions, but their incomes are too low from these sources of income to lift them out of poverty. And their experience as poor people affects their entire lives, their circle of friends, their expectations and so on, even if they are employed or officially on pension.

            Among groups most likely to be poor either temporarily or permanently are rural young people. Between 2005 and 2011, 95 percent of the young in rural areas were poor at least some of the time.  Also more likely to be poor than other groups are families with three or more children. “Childless couples extremely rarely fell below the poverty line,” the sociologist says.


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