Russian pension reform under quadruple influence
Russia’s government initiated pension reform in 2013 to resolve a crisis: the prolonged recession had created a huge Pension Fund deficit that required unsustainable subsidies from the state budget. The article analyzes four sets of influences on that reform: those from above (high-level policy makers), inside (government ministries, legislators), below (civil society, public opinion), and outside (international actors, policy learning). We find that the strongest influences come from above and inside, and analyze the conflicting policy preferences of key actors on reversal of pension privatization, indexation of payments, and age of eligibility. The policy process is protracted and fails to resolve major issues. Irresolution results from the leadership’s effort to avoid blame for pension benefit cuts despite the weakness of civil society’s influence. The current reform effort has been tentative, halting, and indecisive, indicating a government with a diminished capacity to resolve this major social policy problem.