Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Working-Age Russians Now More Pessimistic about Future than Pensioners, Levada Poll Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 17 – The continuing stagnation or worse of the Russian economy has “upended the pyramid of social optimism” in Russia, Mikhail Sergeyev says. Instead of older people being the most pessimistic about the future of their country as is typically the case, now working age Russians are.

            This finding of the latest Levada Center survey, the Nezavisimaya gazeta journalist says, represents a departure from the past; and it reflects more than just the difficulties many Russian workers now have getting a job, ensuring that they are paid, or advancing in their careers (

            “In the beginning of the summer, despite the football festival, no only the ratings of the powers that be fell but the attitudes and expectations of the people as a whole became significantly worse,” the Center’s Marina Krasilnikova says. And that increased pessimism involved not only views about the country as a whole but also about the families of workers.

            Between February and June, the Levada Center finds, the share of negative assessments about the standard of living of families and the economic situation in the country as a whole rose by “almost ten percent.” But even worse, expectations about the future deteriorated even more, by 15 percent.

            And the share of Russians who view the current political situation in the country as “tense” or even “explosive” increased by nine percent, despite the upbeat messages of Vladimir Putin and his regime. Russians “are ever more disappointed in the ability of the authorities to solve current problems and organize a normal life in the country,” Krasilnikova adds.

            Other surveys, such as the ones conducted by the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service, Sergeyev continues, show similar if slightly less dramatic shifts.

            The reasons are not far to seek. Duma deputy Mikhail Shchapov says that “young people see that real incomes have been contracted for four years in a row, that the government does not have a clear strategy for development and that this means things will continue as they are into the future. That kills optimism.”

            According to him, “the almost complete lack of social lifts in the most varied areas – from science to business and creativity – is an important factor” behind the decline.  Young people do not see any possibilities for themselves to advance or any “positive projects” that might inspire them.

            What is especially dangerous about such attitudes, Sergeyev suggests, is that “the consequences of the growing pessimism among young people and working-age citizens can manifest themselves in a lowering of entrepreneurial activity, a growth in youth crime, and general aparthy.” It may also spark more emigration and greater use of drugs and alcohol.

            And, of course, it may lead to more protest activity as well.

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