Russian Median Incomes Now Far Below What It Takes to Be Middle Class
June 21 – The median income of Russians is currently 26,500 rubles (440 US
dollars) a month, far below the 121,000 rubles (2000 US dollars) needed to be
middle class in Moscow or even the 60,000 rubles (1,000 US dollars) to meet
that standard in most of the regions of the country, according to the Analytic
Credit Rating Agency (ARKA).
a new study, the agency defines “middle class” in Russian conditions as having
sufficient funds to buy high-quality goods, own property and a car, save some money,
travel abroad, and not have difficulty meeting monthly bills.Typically, people in this category, it says,
either have higher educations or are entrepreneurs (svpressa.ru/society/article/203255/).
experts accept the findings of this study but dispute its definition of middle
class. Andrey Bunich of the Union of Entrepreneurs and Landlords says that it
fails to take into account the self-assessment of people: “Many [Russians]
consider themselves middle class even though they really aren’t” in terms of
that characteristic to the mix, he says, means that “the total number of people
in the middle class [in Russia] can be estimated to be about 20 to 25 percent
of the total population.” That is relatively small for a modernized country,
but more disturbing, Buich suggests, is the composition of this group.
it consists of bureaucrats who are dependent on the budget rather than the
economy. The number of entrepreneurs is much smaller, perhaps “about five
million.” Thus, the regional divergence reflects an unequal distribution of
state funds. But overall, it means that the Russian middle class is “absolutely
paternalistic” in its thinking.
means that its middle class won’t play the same role in Russia that it has in
Europe or the United States. Indeed, he suggests, it won’t promote business but
rather because of its values retard the development of the economy.
Aleksandr Prudnik agrees, arguing that “the middle class in Russia” consists mostly
of bosses rather than those who make a direct contribution to the economy. And because the middle class in most countries
defines the society, that means that the Russian one can’t promote development
in the ways many expect.
even the size of the middle class in Russia may be a problem, Aleksandr
Safronov of the Academy of Labor and Social Relations says.Russia’s is declining as a share of the
population because of the economic crisis and now forms far less than the 40
percent of the population most analysts say is needed for socio-political
he suggests, Russia’s middle class by its nature won’t produce the kind of
economic and political development its counterparts have in the West and by its
size may even become the basis for instability.