Mass poverty in Russia threatens the existence of the country


Массовая бедность в России угрожает существованию страны

Our time devalues all serious, key word, or otherwise associated with the social life. For examples just go: “democracy”, “market economy”, “human rights”. Ask about the attitude of mass of the Russian citizen and you get in response a lot of negative emotions and evaluations. No this is not surprising. We’re inventing something different, special, Eurasian, which will wipe your nose “rotten” Europe.

And here comes to mind a Russian proverb: “Without pants but wearing a hat.” I mean such a simple thing, which likewise begins to talk away poverty. Somehow the “rotten” Europe poverty, despite the mass of accumulated social problems, is a massive, critical character. There probably the most acute welfare problems relate to the middle class.

And we have not only lazy talks about poverty, strongly sighing about her intolerance, but it is totally inadequate assessments of its true extent.

According to official Rosstat, our poverty is about 13% of the population, which, of course, not a little, but not as much as it was in 2000 — 29%. So you can continue to groan about this, “screaming”, in the words of Dmitry Medvedev, phenomena, but absolutely nothing to do to really help these 13% of Russians: after all, the remaining 87%, it turns out, live nonpoor. And this is the overwhelming part of the electorate that must vote (and probably vote) “how to”. But, unfortunately, the problem of poverty in Russia is much bigger and deeper than these notorious 13%.

I want to remind you that for the first time in our country’s official poverty line appeared only at the very end of the Soviet period. May 21, 1991 President of the USSR Michael Gorbachev has signed the Decree “On minimal consumer budget”. After the end of the Soviet Union in early 1992, when there was the liberalization of prices, it was found that below the minimum consumer budget live two-thirds of Russians. It was a real social disaster provoked by the accumulated problems of “developed socialism” that came out after the beginning of Gaidar’s reforms.

I had the opportunity at that time to work in the Russian Ministry of labor, and my colleagues proposed to concentrate scarce public resources to help the most disadvantaged of this vast ocean of poverty. And this was offered temporarily (I would like to stress!) to use a much more modest poverty line, which is called “subsistence (physiological) minimum.” Applying it, was able to identify a third of the population, which was in the most breath-taking position, and to do something to help these people — mostly families with minor children.

By the way, Boris Yeltsin was legalized this calculation of the poverty line by a special decree of 2 March 1992 “On the system of minimal consumer budgets”, in which it was found that “the subsistence (physiological) minimum” should be used only “for the period of the crisis state of the economy.” And as the base poverty line we need to continue to use approximately 2 times more fat “minimum consumer budget”.

But the years passed, in 2000-e years the economy went up sharply, significantly increased incomes and the subsistence minimum (losing the eloquent clarification about the “physiological”) continues to be used as the only official tool for identifying poverty. On this account even enacted special laws. But the “minimum consumer budget” is completely forgotten. But if you evaluate the dimensions of poverty in Russia with its use, it will be no less than 25% of the population. This is the level that threatens the very existence of the country. Because of that quality of “human capital” we shouldn’t dream about a breakthrough in the most developed countries.

These 25% say that poverty in Russia is not just the distribution of handouts, a new type of benefits that it is unclear what sources will be provided, if there is no economic growth. And, by the way, will not be largely because there are too many poor in our country. Here’s almost a vicious circle!

But there are still two aggravating circumstances. The first is an assessment of people’s level of well-being. Monitoring Higher school of Economics in the summer of last year showed that 41% of Russians do not have enough money to buy clothes and even food. These figures and other research centers.

Second, sociologists have long noted that Russian families are dominated by values of survival, not development. And this is typical for most of the population — including those who are on any digital criteria does not fall in the number of poor. What does this mean in practice? Such a family is unable to buy decent housing, pay for more education and becoming more pay-quality medical services, to travel to a full rest.

Not to mention the fact that poverty is very unevenly distributed across Russia. If in Moscow the average salary exceeds 60 thousand, in the whole country it is almost two times lower, and in some regions and does around 20 thousand furthermore, pockets of poverty exist in many non-capital cities and rural areas. All this leads primarily to the outflow of people to larger cities that are already choking on infrastructure and often environmental problems. As a result, we have, on the one hand, the depopulation of our spaces, including those where quite comfortable climatic conditions of life, and on the other overcrowded city in which many migrants never found happiness once in the trap of mass loss of life prospects. Social mobility, which is now so fashionable to say, for many young and not so young Russians simply stopped.

Thus poverty is understood as the inability to escape from the constant state outsideration, and the consequent apathy and depression are striking and seemingly relatively safe, in terms of flat numbers groups.

No wonder you paint such a disastrous picture. We all — both officials, and experts need to recover and stop to assess the social situation in the country only quarterly microchanges of the indicator “share of population with incomes below the subsistence minimum”, while lamenting the “unacceptable” high poverty in Russia. The sharpness and depth of the situation, if she is found taking into account all above-described aspects, it is a good reason to determine the actual, not the perceived priorities of Russia’s development in the long term.

Now, for example, everything — from top to bottom — like a mantra you speak of the “digitization” of the economy and all other spheres of our lives, and even how to invest money in education and health. Who would mind! But the link, for which it would be possible to pull out the whole chain, alas, is not here. It is in the passivity of the Russian people, which in the mass are accustomed to the paternalism of the state. Here to call to Putin, and he will guide us gas, or fix the plumbing. In addition and will add something to their pensions and salary. This is not surprising: under direct or indirect state control are the incomes of most of us.

Let’s consider:

— more than 40 million pensioners (because the pension system did not do insurance);

— 15 million public sector employees (employees of education, health, culture, social protection);

— 7 million employees in the public administration, the military and law enforcement officials;

— at least 1 million workers of state corporations and state-controlled largest companies.

Total: more than 60 million Russians, whose incomes depend on the state budget. And if we add their families, the welfare of which, in varying degrees, depend on the income of those listed above, the figure could reach 100 million! Let me remind you that Russia’s population now is slightly more than 146 million people.

It turns out that the fight against poverty (if one can speak in practice) is the introduction of regular allowance from the Federal budget. In this way, in a number of regions gradually local benefits either shrinking, or completely abolished.

And in fact, need to take decisive privatization of our entire life — from the development of the real, rich money at the expense of local sources, local governments, and to government withdrawal from many sectors of the economy, responsibility for development which can successfully catch a private initiative of small and medium enterprises. And, of course, possible only if a radical transformation of our entire political system.


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