Thursday, June 28, 2018

40 Percent of Employees of Russian Central Government Now Over 50; Regional and Local Ones Far Younger

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 27 -- From 48 to 68 percent of Russian government employees at all levels are between 30 and 49; but almost 40 percent of all federal employees are above 50, while only 20 percent of municipal workers and 13 bureaucrats in the regions are members of that age cohort, according to a new study.

            Because of the very different life experiences of these groups given the radical changes in Russia over the last 40 years – older workers well remember Soviet times and were formed by them while younger works came of age either in the 1990s or under Vladimir Putin – these cohorts have an uneasy relationship with one another.

            Indeed, the study by Natalya Ivanova of the Higher School of Economics and Irina Shvanova of the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service says, many younger workers view their elders as “ballast” who are no longer effective as bureaucrats and are blocking their own paths upward.

            It appeared recently as “The Career of Government Employees of Older Age Groups” (in Russian) in Voprosy gosudarstvennogo i munitsipalnogo upravleniya, no. 1 (2018):126-139 at and has now been summarized at

            The share of the oldest government employees, those over 60, varied even more widely than this larger divide, with “almost six percent” of federal employees now over that age, while only 1.7 percent of bureaucrats at the regional level were 60 or above, Ivanova and Shavnova say.

            Older government employees have a lot to offer if they are used as advisors and mentors, the scholars say, rather than in line positions, an arrangement that allows them to cope with declining health, their slower adaptation to change and new technologies, and the attitudes of younger workers.

            But arranging things in this way, Ivanova and Shavnova says, will require a revolution in management thinking because often older workers hold on to line positions long after they cease to be effective and are reluctant to move into advisory ones.  Consequently, they suggest, senior managers must be made sensitive to the needs of senior employees and the best way to use them.

            To get the most out of senior workers, they suggest, the system needs to create special conditions of work for them, provide educational opportunities for a group often thought beyond the need for training, and help prepare the older workers for life after retirement, including a possible shift to positions in the civilian sector.

            About a third of all senior workers in the government are interested in going into some kind of entrepreneurial activity after they receive their pensions.  “However, personal desire is not sufficient,” and top managers must transform the system so that their interests can be maximized, especially at a time when the Russian workforce as a whole is aging so rapidly.

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