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Regular version of the site

Who Feels Poor in Russia

People dependent on social benefits, rural residents, and people without higher education are all at risk.

The level of education, the size of the settlement, and the social status can all seriously affect the chance of feeling poor in Russia. These are the findings by experts of the HSE Institute for Social Policy, revealed as part of their regular Monitoring of the Social and Economic Situation and Well-being of the Population.

The monitoring is based on data from Rosstat, public data by WCIOM, and the results of a special monthly survey on social well-being and poverty organized by WCIOM and commissioned by HSE. The survey included a country-representative sample of 1600 people in 46 regions and 130 settlements.

The scholars measured two subjective indicators of respondents’ and their families’ well-being. The first was the subjective evaluation of their financial situation, which was assessed with the following question: ‘How would you evaluate the current financial situation of your household?’

The second indicator is a subjective evaluation of consumption opportunities, assessed by asking following question: ‘To which of the following strata would you attribute yourself?’

Near the dangerous line

The share of the population that sees their financial situation as bad or very bad has been relatively stable over the last six months. According to April 2016 data, it was 21% of respondents. Only 3% of the respondents characterized their financial situation as very bad. The share of people subjectively assessing their financial situation as good or very good has decreased with 11% of the respondents assessing their financial status positively.

The researchers determined the subjective evaluation of poverty on the basis of their evaluation of consumer opportunities. People who don’t have enough money to buy the necessary food are categorized as extremely poor. In April 2016, this was 9% of respondents. The share of poor people who have trouble finding enough money to buy clothes was, excluding the aforementioned extremely poor group, 32% of respondents. In total, 41% of the respondents were evaluated as poor according to their subjective evaluation of the financial situation.

The chances of becoming poor are higher in families where the source of income is pensions (49%), as well as in one-person households and childless families (56% and 43% accordingly), a considerable proportion of which are also pensioners.

The risk of poverty as measured by subjective evaluation of consumption opportunities is considerably higher among respondents from the rural areas (46%), without higher education (48.5% among respondents with high education, and 45% among respondents with higher professional education), and pensioners (56%).

The key factors of extreme poverty are living alone and in families with children.

Increased levels of extreme poverty have been registered in three strata:

  • One-person households, half of which are pensioners. 16.7% of them can be categorized as extremely poor;
  • Families with two and more children (9.8%);
  • Families with children under three (9.9%).

Families dependent on welfare are also among the most vulnerable.

The share of poor people who live on welfare exclusively, is 1.7 times higher than the share of poor people among those who have only earned income.

Those who have salary cuts

Working citizens are also at risk of experiencing poverty. About 40% of Russian families have faced a negative situation on the labour market over the last three months.

The most common cases are the following:

  • Salary cuts (24% of surveyed families in April 2016);
  • Late payments of wages (19%);
  • Transition to part-time employment, forced unpaid vacation, dismissal (9%).

In April, salary cuts became more common for childless families and families with three children and more, as well as among specialists with higher education and employees in business.

At the same time, Russians’ expenses are growing.

Despite the fact that the official statistics demonstrated a substantial decrease in the consumer inflation rate, the population continues to feel a considerable growth in prices of the most important goods and services.

34% of the April survey respondents said that they felt a considerable growth of gas prices over the previous one or two months, 31% mentioned a considerable growth in public utilities rates, the same share — for fruit and vegetables, 25% — for meat and meat products, 18% for sugar, and 18% for dairy products.

Author: Svetlana Saltanova, May 23, 2016