Recent adjustments in the class structure of Russian society led to shrinking of the middle class and increase of the poor. This trend is set to continue in the near future, Evgeniy Gontmaher wrote for MK.ru.
Economics of Degradation
The economics of degradation, as Gontmaher calls it, is the current trend for Russia, which he believes may continue not just for the next few years but maybe for another decade.
According to Gontmaher, before the crisis of 2014-2016 the Russian society’s structure was as following:
- Rich: 1-2%
- Middle class: 15-20%
- Below middle class: 30-35%
- Poor: 40-50%
He points out that even during the so called “fat” years of the Russian gas-oil miracle when prices per barrel exceeded USD $100 there was a substantial percentage of people living below the actual poverty level.
This includes population that are unable to afford regular vacations and entertainment and not just purchasing of food required for a person’s physical survival (the minimum used in many a statistic research in Russia).
The Poor in The Class Structure of The Russian Society
The analyst states that 20-25% of Russians could be called “chronically poor”. It means they can only afford to purchase the simplest food, keep wearing the clothes they own, and unable to afford even modest entertainment. They still have to pay for water and electricity, public transport, and at least some medicines.
These people include first of all:
- Single non-working pensioners
- Families with disabled or chronically ill
- Families with 2 and more kids under 18
- Single mothers (Gontmaher doesn’t mention single fathers)
Having crossed into the territory of poverty, these people go through marginalization. In short, they quickly reach the bottom of the social structure, or underclass.
In Russia, these people are not just homeless — mentally ill, alcoholics, or drug addicts, which exist in any country. The Russian poor have a roof over their heads, although often more than modest (an old apartment or just a room in a shared apartment or a boarding house). They are not social undesirables. But their existence is the everyday fight for survival, which dominates any other needs that are considered a social norm.
Often living this lifestyle makes it impossible for these people to get back to the normal life. Families of chronically ill are in the worst situation. Governmental support for these families is gravely insufficient.
This is where the biggest problem of Russia is at the moment: Not just economical but also social degradation, Gontmaher concludes.