While income and wealth disparities define Russia as a country of deep inequalities, other indicators such as access to education and life expectancy improve its negative image. Back to the paper by Svetlana Mareeva and Ekaterina Slobodenyuk presented at the HSE's 20th April International Conference, this time focusing on Russia's position in global statistics on (in)equality of opportunity.
According to the EBRD 2016-2017 Transition Report (Transition for all: Equal opportunities in an unequal world), Russia's inequality of opportunity Gini index is fairly high at 13%.
This index shows differences in income arising from people's circumstances at birth, such as gender, the place where they were born, their ethnicity or parental background. It is always lower than the Gini index for income, since it reflects only part of the income.
Russia's inequality of opportunity Gini index exceeds those of most studied countries of Southeast and Central Europe, the Baltics, and Central Asia, except Kazakhstan, Armenia, Moldova, Georgia, Turkey, Kosovo, Latvia, and Estonia whose inequality of opportunity Ginis are higher than Russia's (the minimum across all studied countries is 5.9%, and the maximum is 17.9%).
This puts the country on par with Turkey, Romania and Croatia. Parental background is the most important determinant of inequality of opportunity, followed by gender and place of birth, in terms of getting an education and high-paying employment.
These indicators are used by the UN to adjust countries' rankings in the Human Development Index (HDI), and thanks to their high values, Russia ranks among the leaders (49th out of 189 countries) in the Human Development Index (2018 Statistical Update).
According to calculations made by the study authors, Russia ranks 6th to 7th among the 188 countries included in the UN Human Development Report 2016 , surpassed only by the Czech Republic, Uzbekistan, Slovakia, Australia and Finland which had even smaller disparities in education at the time of the UN Report. Since 2010, Russia has made significant upward progress from the 55th position in the ranking by reducing this type of inequality from 11.2% to 2.2%.
According to the UN, in 2015, just as in 2010, Russia ranked 63rd out of 188 countries by this indicator. While the disparity of inequality in life expectancy decreased from 11.5% to 8.8% in Russia over the period, its international ranking remained the same, since other countries with less inequality in life expectancy (e.g. Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Iceland, Singapore and Italy) demonstrated similar results.
In 2015, Russia ranked 29th on the list of 151 countries arranged in ascending order of both monetary and non-monetary inequality (UN Human Development Report 2016), with the Czech Republic, Norway, Iceland and Finland demonstrating the lowest inequality, and the Republic of Chad, the Central African Republic and the Comoros showing the highest inequality.