Poverty of Russian Professionals: Scale, Causes, Trends
Poverty among Russian professionals is widespread and at the end of 2019 affected almost a million members of this group. Low-income status is even more widespread among them. This situation, inherited from the 1990s, improved to an extent in the mid-2000s. In the 2010s, the rate of this improvement began to lag behind even its rate among a number of other professional groups. Poverty and low income among professionals are caused by several factors, especially inequalities related to residential community, employment sector and region. In the 2010s, these factors became even more important, the type of community being a key element that brought other factors along with it. The second group of factors included the size and nature of the dependency burden, especially minor children. Since the wages of one out of six professionals in Russia are below 150% of the subsistence level in the respective region, they do not ensure even minimal demographic reproduction. Despite the assistance extended by the state in the recent decade to families with children, the causes of poverty and low income among members of this group of professionals have remained the same. The third group of causes of their poverty is associated with the quality of human capital. The level of poverty and low income among professionals with low indices of human capital, irrespective of what type of community they live in, is relatively higher than among the groups with average and high indices, even though one in five receives a salary of no more than 200% of the subsistence level for their region. Poverty among Russian professionals stems from the traditional underestimation of highly skilled nonphysical (mental) labor; this also explains why monthly wages even of professionals with high human capital indices differ little from the wages of other professional groups. Thus, tactics used by professionals to improve their financial status— such as migrating, changing jobs within their community, finding secondary employment and building up human capital—do not bring the desired results.