Staunton, Mar. 30 – The Putin regime continues to use the same measure of poverty it has employed in the past, one based strictly according to the number of people with incomes less than what the regime itself defines as the minimum living standard. Using that approach, it says that only 10 percent of Russians are poor.
But most of the world and many of Russia’s own experts favor a multi-dimension measure of poverty that takes into consideration not only incomes but the cost of living and access to key products. Using that measure, one Russian in four, not one in ten, live in poverty, HSE experts say (ng.ru/economics/2023-03-30/1_8694_poverty.html).
Even if one has questions about the multi-dimension measurement other countries use, one aspect of Russian statistics in this area is especially suspect. Moscow makes no allowance for differences in cost of living between expensive locations like Moscow and inexpensive ones like Ingushetia.
Russian officials admit that the cost of living varies widely across the Russian Federation, with some federal subjects standing at 73 percent of the national average and others being as much as 178 percent of that average. But these same officials make no allowance for such differences in their calculation of overall poverty.
Pressure from academic experts to get the Russian authorities to change has been growing, and it is likely to come to a head at a conference scheduled for later this month at the Higher School of Economics, a hotbed of advocacy for fundamental changes in the way Russia reports its poverty levels.