Saturday, August 6, 2016

Russian Middle Class Now Consists of Siloviki and Bureaucrats Instead of Teachers and Doctors

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 6 – Not only is the gap between rich and power in Russia again beginning to grow as the poor grow poorer, but the country’s middle class has seen a change in its composition over the last several years. Instead of teachers and doctors, it now consists primarily of people in the security field and other government officials.

            Last month, the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service released a report showing that income inequality in Russia has increased again as measured by the Gini coefficient.  The class most effected by the current crisis, it suggested, was not the poor or the rich but those in the middle (

            Dmitry Loginov, one of the authors of the report, noted that “in the pre-crisis period, the middle class had expanded including within its ranks representatives of the bureaucratic apparatus, the force structures, and parts of the pedagogical and medical communities.”  But many of the last two groups have fallen out of the middle class during the last three years.

            Tatyana Maleva, head of the Academy’s Institute of Social Analysis and Prognostication, said that the Gini coefficient is based on declared incomes and so those like the poor who can turn to off-the-book means of gaining income may not be as poor as they appear officially.  But the middle class has suffered the most because it has no such tradition of using such methods.

            She pointed out that during the second half of the last decade, “the structure of the [Russian] middle class changed.” Earlier it consisted mostly of those in the private entrepreneurial sector; but since 2005 or so, “the larger part consists of well-paid bureaucrats,” including those in the force structures.

            That trend is “continuing,” she said. “Business is in such a state that you aren’t going to make big money in it. What is the most stable thing in the country? The state sector. Jobs there are stable and more or less well-paid, and people do not want to take the risks of business” in the current environment.

            People should remember that those in the middle class go “not where incomes and risks are high but where incomes are mid-range and stability is the norm.”

            Another expert, Svetlana Biryukova, a senior researcher at the Higher School of Economics, pointed out that Russia’s middle class used to “consist of two very different groups,” representatives of intellectual work, on the one hand, and siloviki and state employees, on the other.

            Now, however, she said, “doctors, teachers and other representatives of this group are beginning to surrender their positions” as defined by income and thus are falling out of the middle class.

No comments:

Post a Comment