In the early 1990s, Russians relied on multiple sources of income, struggling to make a living, and many would stand in queues in front of social security offices to apply for handouts.
Even though, according to the 1994 micro-census, 90% of the population had steady employment at that time (the highest rate for 19 years), their employment income alone was not sufficient to 'feed the family'. Employers were trying to adjust to the market by adopting a 'flexible' approach to compliance with the labor law: they delayed payment of salaries, reduced the amount of pay and denied their employees paid leave. Having a smallholding and welfare recipients in the family helped to make ends meet.
Associate Professor at the HSE Department of Demography Vladimir Kozlov, together with senior researcher at the HSE Institute of Demography Sergei Vasin presented their research on 'Labor Activity as the Source of Subsistence on Russian Census Data' at a seminar hosted by the HSE Laboratory for Labour Market Studies (LLMS) on June 4, 2013. They looked at how things have changed after 20 years, and what now constitute the main sources of livelihood in Russia.
Their findings, based on the 1994, 2002, and 2010 National Census data, suggest that employment remains the main source of livelihood for Russians today (48%), while the importance of smallholdings and social handouts has decreased. Thus, 80% of the employable population had employment in 2010, which is 10% less than in 1994 and 5% more than in 2002. The prevalence of child benefits has dropped by more than 1.5 times, as has the role of smallholdings in people's incomes (10.8%).
"The number of recipients of child benefits declined after the 1998 crisis, when the amount paid as child benefit dropped far below the subsistence level and has never approached it again," said Kozlov. He explained the diminished share of household farms and social handouts in people's incomes by the improved socio-economic situation in the country.
The study showed that the highest proportion of earned income in households was in Russia's Northern mining regions (Khanty-Mansiysk, Yamal, Chukotka, Magadan), and in Moscow and its metropolitan area. The lowest proportion of earned income can be observed in the North Caucasus and Southern Siberia. On average, Russians have 1.3 income sources per person, while the importance of employment as an income source is growing in all Russian provinces.
The situation has also changed over the last 20 years regarding the age of employment: Russians currently tend to begin employment later, but stay on past retirement age. Thus, findings reveal that employment in pre-retirement age has increased from 50.2% to 53.2% between 1994 and 2010, and has doubled from 14.1% to 28.8% past retirement age (60-64). Another important finding is that Russians spend more time receiving their education, which resulted in lower rates of employment in the 15-19 and 20-24 age groups between 1994 and 2002.