The Impact of Crisis on the Life of the Russian Middle Class
This article uses the data of several national surveys (2003–2015) to analyze the changes in the size of the Russian middle class, including during periods of crisis in the Russian economy, and the influence of the economic crisis that started in 2014 on the middle class. It shows that although the income, life chances, and social protection of the country’s middle class have declined in the current crisis, the overall negative impact of the first year of the crisis on the life of the Russian middle class was less than expected. In times of crisis, members of this class also differ significantly in all key characteristics of their lives from the rest of the Russian population. However, as the article shows, the crisis dramatically intensified all the negative trends in the socio-economic situation of the Russian middle class that had begun in the pre-crisis years, especially the convergence of their position with that of other Russians. This applies not only to income, achievements, and consumption, but also to the decline of social protection at work. The conclusion is reached that the deteriorating position of the middle class and the growth of equalization (the reforms of the early 1990s were carried out under the slogan of fighting against it) will contribute to erosion of the foundations of the social contract that emerged in that period between the government and the most skilled segment of Russian society.