Экономика XXI века – это нооэкономика, экономика справедливости и разума
Inequality is a part of the economic reality of any society. It is also a constant focus of attention of academic community, from time to time becoming a matter of heated social and political debates. Social scientists consider the growth of income inequality as one of the major socio-economic risks posed by globalization. Inequality issues have acquired a particular importance in connection with the market transition of post-socialist countries, including Russia, where the ‘starting point’ of transformation was the centrally planned economy. The characteristic feature of the transition process has been a sharp increase in income inequality. In the late 1980s Russia, along with the Scandinavian countries was in the group of states with a low level of income inequality. At present, the scale of inequality in Russia is comparable to economies of Latin America. This note aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of income inequality in Russia for the period since the beginning of market reforms. The sources of data are both official macro-statistics and independent sociological surveys.
In the later decade Russia continued progress in terms of economic growth and lowering poverty. Yet Russia was much less successful in reducing inequality which skyrocketed after the market liberalization reforms in the early 1990s. Currently inequality in Russia has stabilized at the level which is significantly above the OECD average: the average Gini coefficient for the OECD countries in 2014 was 0.318, while it was 0.416 in Russia. Current macroeconomic environment with continuous recession, which started in 2014 and massive terms of trade shock due to collapse of oil prices, threatens to reverse Russia’s substantial achievements in terms of raising incomes of the population and reducing poverty. This chapter aims to provide a comprehensive analysis of income and wealth inequality in Russia and the impact of the current crisis. The focus throughout the chapter is on the national distribution of income and wealth. In market economies income and wealth serve as good predictors of well-being in other domains, such as social inclusion, education, health, etc.