Justice and inequality in the household consumption in Russia and China: A comparative analysis
The authors conducted a comparative analysis of the household consumption in Russia and China on the basis of the reputable empirical information sources. The article focuses on the main trends and peculiarities in how households from each country differed in terms of the structure and level of consumption under dramatic transformations associated with market reforms. Inequality in consumption in Russia and China, which can be characterized as high or excessive, largely determines the overall situation with social inequality and significantly influences the development of state social policy in various fields. As for the most differentiating items of expenditure for both countries, those are groceries, durable goods, public utility payments, cultural activities and entertainment. After noting the effect that income has on consumption, which is undeniable, though differs in nature and degree, the authors focus on other factors of this type of inequality, in particular, on the territorial, regional and settlement-specific characteristics of consumption inequality in both countries. The authors argue that in Russia, there is significant regional inequality in consumption, while in China such inequality is more settlement-specific; there are also differences in consumption inequality between urban and rural areas, which contribute to the overall situation with social inequality. In China, urban household expenditures are growing much faster than those of rural households, while in Russia the difference is not that pronounced. That said, the share of spending on groceries in the structure of expenditures is decreasing more rapidly in urban China, and compared to Russia, there is a smaller gap between urban and rural areas. At the same time in China, consumption inequality as a result of age and class differences is a much more acute issue, while in Russia, the differences caused by intensifying economic stratification seem to be a more important factor of inequality.