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Jun 3, 2022
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Class gap: Wealthy Russians are 9 times richer than the poor

Class gap: Wealthy Russians are 9 times richer than the poor

Photo: Pavel Smertin/TASS

The difference in the incomes of the most and least wealthy Russians in 2021 was 8.6 times, calculated in the FinExpertiza audit and consulting network based on Rosstat data. True, the richest citizens of the country with multimillion-dollar incomes were not taken into account in the study. Instead, the authors divided the entire population into five equal groups, the first of which included citizens with the lowest income, the fifth – with the highest (although it is difficult to call it really high).

The first, least well-off, group of Russians earned 10.8 thousand rubles on average in 2021. The second – 20.3 thousand, the third – 30.3 thousand, the fourth – 45.4 thousand. In the fifth – the most secure – the average income was 93.5 thousand rubles. The average monthly income of all groups in 2021 is 40 thousand rubles. The wealthiest group accounted for 46.7% of all incomes of the population. Citizens from the first received only about 5.4% of all money.

At the same time, the income growth rates of the poorest Russians over the past two years have been higher than those of the richest. For example, in 2020, the cash receipts of the former increased by 4.7% due to the growth of social payments, while the latter – only by 0.9%. In 2021, the growth was 14.8% against 10.8%, respectively. However, due to a different base, the gap has even grown slightly since 2020, when it was 8.5 times. In some regions, the difference is even more noticeable, for example, in the Yamalo-Nenets District it is 10.4 times (203.9 thousand rubles against 21.7 thousand rubles), in Moscow – 9.4 times (210.6 thousand . rub against 22.4 thousand rubles).

According to FinExpertiza experts, in the near future the gap between the Russians will begin to level off. That’s just not due to the fact that the poor get rich, but because the incomes of wealthy citizens will decrease due to the departure of large international companies from Russia and the general volatility in the market. The state will continue to help the poorest citizens, which will stimulate the growth of their incomes.

As for the richest Russians, who could significantly change the figures of the study, according to the director of the INP RAS Alexandra Shirova less than 100,000 citizens of Russia receive incomes of more than 3 million rubles a month. Last year, Chairman of the Federation of Independent Trade Unions of Russia Mikhail Shmakov said that the ratio of the incomes of the richest 10% of Russians to the same number of the poorest exceeds 16 times, and taking into account hidden incomes, the discrepancy can reach from 28 to 36 times.

True, now incomes have begun to decline even among this privileged stratum. As calculated on June 1 by RIA Novosti based on data from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Russian billionaires have lost $41.48 billion since the beginning of the year. Most of all, the co-owner of Novatek and Sibur “impoverished” Gennady Timchenkowhose wealth has declined by nearly $7.06 billion.

The capital of the co-owner of Novatek has noticeably decreased Leonid Mikhelsonwhich ranks second in the ranking – by 6.65 billion dollars, up to 25.8 billion.

NLMK beneficiary Vladimir Lisinranked third, has lost $4.05 billion since the start of the year (estimated at $24 billion).

But occupying the first line of the Forbes rating among Russian moneybags Vladimir Potanin confirmed the principle of “the rich get richer”. Since the beginning of the year, the owner of Norilsk Nickel has managed to increase his fortune by $3.89 billion, to $34.7 billion.

As he told the Free Press Associate Professor of the Department of Labor and Social Policy of the RANEPA Konstantin Dobromyslovin fact, the gap between rich and poor in Russia is much larger than 8.6 times, it all depends on how you count. And although due to a general drop in incomes and social support for the poorest, this gap “on paper” may be decreasing, one must also take into account how much the poorest Russians can buy with this money, taking into account inflation.

— I would not call the methodology of this study objective. The same Rosstat takes into account the so-called decile or ten percent income groups, but here for some reason the population was divided into five parts, that is, into groups of 20%, this is very generalized. In fact, according to other estimates, the gap between poor and rich Russians is much higher. On average, this difference is 20–30 times, and according to some estimates, even 40–50 times.

Of course, it all depends on how you count. It is not even necessary to include oligarchs and billionaires in such calculations. I would take officials as a standard for a “wealthy Russian”, of which we have quite a few. For example, deputy ministers or deputies of the State Duma. Their income is 450-500 thousand per month, as you understand, the difference with the minimum 10 thousand is significant.

Another indicator that can be taken into account is the indicator of the marginal wage fund from which insurance premiums are levied. This is about 1.6 million rubles a year, that is, 133 thousand rubles a month. This is a kind of average value of the largest number of wealthy people who fall into the area of ​​insurance premiums.

Of course, all research has the right to life. If this agency makes such an analysis every year and compares the dynamics, this is also a certain indicator. But in general, the chosen methodology raises questions; there are much more accurate statistics that show the financial condition of society.

“SP”: – How fair is the conclusion that now this gap will be reduced?

— In general, this is possible, at least formally. Recently, the government decided to index the minimum wage and the cost of living by 10%, this is a fairly significant indicator, due to which the average wage will also increase. But all over the world they are now guided not by the average, but by the median salary, which is quite different from it. This is an indicator that, as it were, is in the middle – 50% receive a salary more, and 50% – less. If the average salary we have is about 58 thousand, then the median is about 35-36 thousand rubles.

In recent months, strong inflationary processes have begun in our country, jumps and falls in the dollar exchange rate, and other fluctuations. Our economy and pricing are being radically restructured, so we need to carefully review everything related to the income of the population.

For example, the consumer price index should not be looked at in general, but for those goods that people in the median segment consume the most. And then it will turn out that inflationary processes in our country are much higher than the declared 15%, reaching up to 20-25%. And, therefore, the purchasing power of their money is completely different. This needs to be talked about.

Of course, we have a large stratification in society. Now the question is how the “average temperature in the hospital” is measured and what are the social consequences of this stratification. We must answer to what extent this inequality generates social instability in society, and these are not so much economic as political questions.

“SP”: – Will it not turn out that during the crisis we will see a standard situation when “the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer”?

– This formula works in a wild market, but we still live in a civilized society. Developed countries have long gone from this and are trying to regulate the distribution of wealth in society. And we would have to turn to the works of recognized theorists like John Keyneswhen we talk about state regulation of the market.

The thesis that the market itself will regulate everything is fundamentally wrong, this will not happen. The market is a wild state, where man is a wolf to man, and whoever is strong is right. We must understand that there must be some kind of social equality between people and, based on this, lay a political and economic course.

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