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Wage Inequality in Russia (1994–2003)

The paper documents the changes in the size of the wage distribution in Russia over the period 1994–2003. Developments in wage inequality varied a lot by sub-periods: overall wage inequality stayed stable in 1994–1996, then it jumped following the 1998 crisis and remained at higher levels for three years. In 2002 the trend reversed again and in the course of a single year wage inequality fell back to the level of the mid-1990s. We find that evolution wage inequality was largely driven by changes in the upper end of the wage distribution. Decomposition of wage inequality by population sub-groups shows that inequality has been higher for men, younger and low-educated workers, and rural inhabitants. The structure of inequality did not change much over the period from 1994 to 2003. Demographic variables (mainly gender and region) explain the largest proportion of wage dispersion (over 40% of the explained variation and 15% of total variation). Nearly equivalent is the contribution of firm characteristics with industry affiliation of employer playing the leading role. Our results show that returns to education continued to rise at all percentiles of the wage distribution converging at the level of about 8–9% of wage increase for an additional year of schooling.