The number of middle-class Russians has not changed much since the early 2000s and stands at about 20% of the population, while its wealthiest core is much smaller at just 8.1% of all Russians. These people tend to identify themselves as the middle class and share its two main characteristics: wealth and high social status. Researchers believe that the middle class in Russia could potentially shrink due to declining pay and fewer jobs requiring high-level ‘qualifications.
Wealthy urbanites tend to spend their leisure time in a variety of ways, according to a survey of Muscovites. Respondents fitting the definition of ‘middle class’ were found to eat out, go to theatres, concerts, museums and exhibitions, practice sports, read books and newspapers, and go online more often than less affluent groups. However, according to the researchers, it may be too early to say that wealthier Russians maintain a distinct lifestyle; instead, the difference may lie in how much disposable income they have. Since the middle class in Russia today is very heterogeneous, any shared lifestyle standards have yet to emerge.
Middle-class Russians are more likely to engage in social activism. They take part in almost all civil practices, from volunteering in their residential areas to helping strangers. In contrast, low resource groups, such as pensioners, poorly educated people and those on low incomes are involved in civil activity the least.
However, not all people considered middle class are equally active in society. People who belong to theupper middle class are more likely to feel responsible for the life of their community and broader society; the lower middle class tends to prioritise family, while those in the middle tend to value the status quo above all and focus more on their work.
While most middle class lifestyle choices have yet to emerge in Russia, one trend is clear: they insist on sending children only to 'good' schools and will spare no money or time in ensuring they can get their offspring into the best school available. They are prepared to pay extra for quality education and invest in a car for driving the child to classes or buy an apartment closer to the desired school. In contrast, working class parents tend to adapt to circumstances and choose a school near their home.
Middle-class families often hire migrants asnannies, housekeepers, drivers, cooks or gardeners. Thus they buy themselves more time for work and leisure, such as hobbies, going out etc. Domestic workers in Russian middle-class households are relatively well paid.