The presidential decree sets the task of surpassing Germany's GDP. Is it possible? And in general, how does our country look today in world rankings in comparison with others? The column for AiF.ru tells RAS Academician Abel Aganbegyan...
During the previous period of stagnation, the German economy developed faster. But due to the 2020 crisis associated with the coronavirus pandemic, it may decrease more (the latest official forecast is 5.4%) than in Russia. The German government expects a 3.8% cut. This will allow us, according to the IMF's calculations, to get ahead of Germany a little ahead of schedule, already this year. However, in a new decree on the prospects for 2030, the president removed this task.
Two economies: Russia and Germany
The most detailed comparisons of economies are made by the World Bank, not the IMF. Sometimes these calculations are carried out by the UN services. These comparative calculations are carried out using two methods: taking into account purchasing power parity (PPP), when prices for products and services that form GDP are directly compared, and more generally, taking into account the market exchange rate of the national currency against the US dollar, in the units of which the comparative analysis.
This isogram shows five different calculations of the size of GDP in dollars for the 12 leading countries of the world. As you can see, according to the main calculation of the World Bank, the difference in the GDP of Russia and Germany in PPP is very significant and there can be no talk of any achievement of the German indicator by Russia in the coming years. And only according to the IMF's PPP calculation, the GDP volumes of Russia and Germany are as close as possible. And if the government forecasts for 2020 are confirmed, then according to its results, Russia's GDP will be several tenths of a percent higher than in Germany. But we must take into account that this GDP, according to German estimates, will increase by 4.4% in 2021, while the forecast of Russian GDP, according to budget calculations for the next years, is noticeably lower. If it comes true, then it will not be a "historic takeoff", as recently put it. ex-head of the Ministry of Economic Development Maxim Oreshkin, but a fleeting misunderstanding.
Please note that when comparing GDP at par (market dollar exchange rate), Russia is not ranked 6th near Germany, but 10th (according to IMF calculations) and 12th (according to World Bank and UN calculations). And we are still very far from Germany.
As it was before?
In 1975, Russia's GDP was almost double that of Germany and was even higher than that of Japan. And China and India, which in terms of GDP have now risen to the 2nd and 3rd places after the United States, were not visible at close range. The isogram shows the places of the 10 largest countries in terms of GDP in 1990, 1998, 2008 and 2019.
From the 2nd place in 1980 after the USA and from the 3rd place in 1990 after the USA and Japan as a result of the transformational crisis Russia moved to the 10th place in 1998. And then during the recovery upturn, largely generated by the eightfold increase in oil prices and a huge influx of convertible currency into the country, Russia managed to outstrip Brazil, Italy, France and the UK in GDP, reaching 6th place. And to date, Russia has remained in 6th place, and Italy dropped out of the top ten countries, which was replaced by the rapidly growing Indonesia with its huge population of 268 million people. Over the years, it has risen to 7th place after Russia. If we do not manage to break out of stagnation in the foreseeable future, then by the end of the 2020s. Indonesia could possibly replace Russia in 6th place. And then Russia will be followed by a relatively rapidly developing Brazil with a population of 210 million people.
By the size of GDP in the mid-70s. last century, Russia has reached a maximum in relation to other countries, second only to the United States. At that time, Russia's share in the world economy was about 8%, while today it has dropped to 3%. The reason is the beginning lag in the growth rates of Russia and the USSR as a whole during the period of Brezhnev's stagnation and in the last three years of perestroika, and most importantly, the lack of economic growth in the first 30 years of the existence of the new Russia. In 2019, Russia's GDP was only 10% higher than its size in 1990. And the EU economy, led by Germany, has doubled over these 30 years, the United States - 2.5 times, and the developing countries, led by China and India - more than 3.5 times. Therefore, we are far behind, and it is simply indecent to talk about "historical takeoff".
Of course, over time, we will overtake Germany in terms of GDP, because their population is 83 million people, and in Russia - almost 147 million. We have, roughly, twice as many workers.
But it is important to fully realize that our life to the greatest extent depends not on the volume of the gross domestic product and not on whether it is more in our country than in Germany, or less, but above all on the level of economic development, first of all. And secondly, on how this level is used to improve the well-being of people and for the development of society to the heights of civilization.
Place in the world
In terms of economic development, Russia still occupies a rather high 40th place among 170 countries of the world (not including scanty states in the rating). In the best 60s - 70s. last century, Russia ranked 30th. We lag behind 25 developed countries, South Korea and Taiwan, a number of post-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe, as well as the oil-producing countries of the Middle East. In terms of economic development, Russia adjoins the lower group of developed countries, lagging behind, for example, Greece and Portugal by 10-25%.
The situation is worse in international rankings in terms of social indicators, living standards and population. The highest place here is Russia in the ranking of the countries of the world according to the UN education level index. We are in 33rd place with an index of 0.832, which is higher than Spain, France, Italy, Luxembourg, at the level of Singapore, Greece and Liechtenstein. Germany in this ranking as of 2018 took 1st place. Major leading countries were lower: Great Britain (8th place), USA (12th place), Canada (17th place), Japan (27th place) - not far from Russia.
The most significant indicator of the level of social development is the United Nations Comprehensive Human Development Index, which includes national income per capita, education and life expectancy. In this ranking, Russia ranks 49th out of 179 countries. Russia is holding at a relatively high level here thanks to a high education rating and a decent rating in terms of national income per capita. This indicator was pulled down by our catastrophic lag behind other countries in terms of life expectancy. We took 103rd place here from 183 countries, including 125th place for men.
In the ranking of the quality of life index, compiled for 80 countries by a large number of indicators, Switzerland took the first place with an index of 8.2, and Russia - only 72nd among the lagging countries with an index of 5.3. It takes into account not only the usual indicators, but also indicators related to the assessment of family life, public life, the presence of political freedoms, job security, gender equality, the impact of climate and geography, transport development, stability are considered. And many of these indicators drag Russia down when compared with other countries.
The opinion of the author may not coincide with the position of the editorial board
International ranking of the world's leading countries by gross domestic product (in billions of US dollars)
According to PPS 2019
At market rate
The World Bank
The World Bank. Oct 2018
IMF. Oct 2018
United Nations 2015
The Republic of Korea
Indonesia at PPP: World Bank - 3829, IMF - 3736.
Ranking of the top 10 countries in the world by GDP (PPP calculation)