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Russian Teachers' Living Standards Vary Across Regions

The living standards of Russian schoolteachers vary significantly across regions due to varied economic, social, environmental, and cultural circumstances. Having examined teacher salariesin the first nine months of 2013, Leading Research Fellow at the HSE Center for Applied Economic Research Pavel Derkachev has made certain recommendations

Pavel Derkachev used a number of indicators to assess the financial situation of schoolteachers and grouped Russian regions into clusters based on teachers' living standards. His findings have informed a number of policy recommendations to improve Russian schoolteachers' financial wellbeing. He presented the report 'Where in Russia Do Teachers Live Well?' at the conference 'Trends in Education: What is an Effective School and an Effective Kindergarten?'

Teachers' Financial Wellbeing Indicators

Pavel Derkachev uses three indicators: teacher salaries relative to region-specific average wages; teacher salaries relative to the average price of a fixed basket of goods and services (consumer basket); and teacher salaries relative to the per capita gross regional product.

Compared to average regional wages, teacher salaries look fairly competitive. According to Derkachev, this indicator is important, since average teacher salaries in countries with good educational systems, while not in and of themsleves very high, tend to be on par with those of other civil servants.

Teacher salaries relative to the price of a fixed basket of goods and services reflect teachers' purchasing power relative to the cost of living in the region. Since the price of a consumer basket can vary threefold across Russia, this indicator gives an idea of teachers' real incomes.

Teacher salaries relative to the per capita gross regional product (GRP) makes it possible to estimate what proportion of the per capita value of regionally-produced goods and services goes into the teacher's pay – or, in other words, how high teacher salaries are relative to the region's economic capacity.

The study was based on published Rosstat data from the federal statistical study of wages paid to certain categories of workers in the first nine months in 2013, and from official data on average wages and the cost of a consumer basket by region in the third quarter of 2013.

Derkachev applied cluster analysis to the data to categorize regions into six groups: strong middling (group 1), lagging behind (group 2), middling (3) advanced (4), leaders (5), and subsidised (6).

Strong Middling

Group 1 includes 27 regions, such as Belgorod, Vladimir, Kaluga, Lipetsk, Moscow, Orel, Arkhangelsk, Leningrad, Sverdlovsk, Irkutsk, Tomsk, Magadan, Nizhny Novgorod, Novgorod, and Samara Oblasts (Provinces); the city of St. Petersburg; the Republics of Tatarstan, Bashkortostan, Karelia, and Komi; and Krasnodar, Perm, and Primorsky Krais (Territories).

Teacher salaries in these regions are higher than the regional average (103%), with high purchasing power (2.60 consumer baskets), and a moderate ratio of 1.07 to per capita GRP. Derkachev suggests that these regions should try to keep teacher salaries at the current level using funds from regional budgets.

Lagging Behind

Group 2 includes 26 regions – Bryansk, Ryazan, Smolensk, Tula, Yaroslavl, Vologda, Volgograd, Kirov, Orenburg, and Kemerovo Oblasts; the Republics of Adygea, Kalmykia, Dagestan, Karachay-Cherkessia, North Ossetia, Mari El, Mordovia, and Buryatia; and Altai, Transbaikalia, and Krasnoyarsk Krais.

Teacher salaries in these regions lag behind the regional average wage (0.95%), have the lowest purchasing power (just 2.10 consumer baskets), and stand at 1.26 of the per capita GRP.

Derkachov suggests that moderate federal subsidies could help bring teacher salaries to 100% of the regional average pay.


Group 3 includes 18 regions, such as Voronezh, Kostroma, Kursk, Tambov, Pskov, Penza, Chelyabinsk, Novosibirsk, and Omsk Oblasts; the Republics of Udmurtia, Chuvashia, Khakassia, and Altai; and Kamchatka Krai.

School teacher salaries in these regions are on a par (100%) with the regional averages, while their purchasing power stands at 1.29 consumer baskets, and their ratio to the per capita GRP is 1.29.

Derkachev suggests that relatively small federal subsidies could help these regions maintain teacher salaries at the current level.


Group 4 includes four regions – Tver Oblast; the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria; and Stavropol, and Khabarovsk Krais. Teacher salaries here are significantly higher than average pay in the regional economy (111%), while their share in the per capita gross regional product (1.55) suggests that these regions have their own supply of resources available. The cost of living is low, and the purchasing power of teacher salaries stands at 2.28.

Derkachov believes that these regions need to maintain the status quo by tapping intolocal resources.


The group of leaders includes the city of Moscow; Sakhalin and Tyumen Oblasts; and Khanty-Mansiysk, Yamal-Nenets, and Nenets Autonomous Districts.

The relatively low proportion of teacher salaries in the per capita GRP (0.28) allows these regions to pay teachers higher salaries (106% of the average regional wage), which have very high purchasing power (4.17 consumer baskets).

Derkachev notes that these regions have sufficient resources available to maintain or raise teacher salaries without using federal money.


Two regions are included in this group – the Republics of Ingushetia and Chechnya. Teacher salaries stand at the regional average, and the low cost of living gives them a purchasing power of 2.23. The ratio of teacher salaries to per capita GRP is very high at 3.45, which means that these two regions do not have local resources available to maintain teacher salaries at the same leveland rely instead on support from the federal budget.

Derkachev notes that the public sector of the local economies – where teaching is one of the most secure and well-paid occupations – puts intense pressure on the local labour market, since private sector employers have to pay employees the same level of salaries or see them leave. Derkachev suggests that these regions could benefit from large-scale measures to stimulate the local economy.

Derkachev concludes that federal support should take different forms to enable regions with different needs to meet their educational policy objectives.


Author: Olga Sobolevskaya, March 25, 2014