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Levada Analytical Center: From Opinions – to Understanding
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How do you feel about state owner- What do you think is the best ap-
ship of industry? proach to property relations today?
Russia aims to join the world’s top
ten countries in terms of per capita
Reprivatization: for or
income by 2020. That will mean in- 4
One-fifth of Russia’s population cur-
rently lives below the poverty line,
drawing wages that are not only less against?
comes of $30,000 per person at current prices. than subsistence level (an average of 3,809 On December 21-24, 2007,
rubles, or $156), but often below the official the Yuri Levada Analytical
Under purchasing power parity, minimum wage. Center (Levada-Center) con-
Russia’s current per capita income is ducted a representative poll
$13,000. By 2030, it is expected to be of 1,600 Russians. Their an-
Real wages have grown in all re-
gions at fast rates. The highest rise swers to a series of questions
(over 20%) was posted in the Mari are given as percentages of
Net foreign capital inflow into the Rus- El, Tatarstan and Chuvash republics, as well the total polled, along with the
sian economy was $80 billion in 2007. as in the Voronezh, Moscow and Novosibirsk results of earlier polls.
In 2008, the figure is unlikely to exceed regions and the Ust-Ordyn Buryat Autonomous The statistical margin of error
$50 billion. Area. They vary across the country by 3.2%. did not exceed 3%.
Divide and Conquer? The Russian Academy of Sciences has released a report on how inequality affects the economy
Optimum Inequality: The Gap
between Rich and Poor
Alexei Shevyakov, Director pends on them directly. In other the level of inequality had one could very well be higher in the
of the Social and Economic words, you can go on raising flaw: they did not rely on exact United States, or in a number
Population Studies Institute pensions and wages, but as science and statistics. of other nations.
of the Russian Academy of long as relative poverty conti- In this sense, our study is uni- The U.S., for example, is at an
Sciences, recently presented nues to grow, no serious pro- que: we have determined a entirely different level of deve-
a report on income distribution gress will be achieved in re- level of inequality for Russia lopment, and only a small pro-
and its adverse effects gards to the economy or the that would ensure intensive portion of the population lives
on national well-being. demographic situation. Simply economic development and in relative poverty. So, the
It revealed a previously raising wages and pensions is help to solve pressing demo- country can afford a higher
unknown relationship not the most effective way to graphic problems. In fact, some level of inequality. This owes
between economic and social combat the adverse effects of data shows that if Russia had much to the national features
factors that are affected by the poverty. been at this optimum level of of America, its history and its
wealth gap. We discovered that income in- inequality in the years since people’s tolerance of inequality
equality is very important to this perestroika, the country would and wealth.
analysis. Until now, scientists now have a GDP that is 30-35 As for Brazil, like most Latin
ROSSIYSKAYA GAZETA have simply relied on the Gini percent higher than it is today. American countries, there has
index, which shows the diffe- Similarly, we could have ex- been a huge gap between the
rence between the incomes of pected its population to increa- rich and the poor throughout its
In Russia, the incomes of the rich and poor persons. Rela- se to around 160 million by history. The population is ready
rich are almost 20 times higher ting back to the Bolsheviks’ di- 2050. However, if the current to live with that for the time
than the incomes of the poor. viding all capital evenly among excessive level of inequality being.
The Bolsheviks once promised the general population, we persists, the country’s popula- In Russia, people lived in roug-
to solve this problem by seizing found that simply attempting to tion will shrink to approximately hly similar conditions for almost
all of the wealth and redistribu- minimize inequality is ineffecti- 124 million in the same time 80 years. The inequality coeffi-
ting it equally among the gene- ve (even if it is done by peace- period. cient for the U.S.S.R. was so-
ral population. However, this ful and legal means). mewhere between two and
ended up bringing more harm Inequality comes in two forms: four. People in this country
than good. normal and excessive. The for- Our data suggested always had a keen sense of
A more modern approach has PAVEL MARKELOV_ITAR-TASS mer propels the economy, sti-
that the optimum
justice and a conservative atti-
been to simply raise wages mulating people to fulfill their
and pensions – this is a policy potential. It is a locomotive for
level of income dis-
tude toward wealth. And then,
that the Russian government clusively by bureaucrats them- radoxically, this number has the European method. development. But excessive
tribution for Russia
all of a sudden, society beca-
me drastically polarized: some
has been pursuing for the last selves. One could potentially (and continues to) increase to- Could this be a purely Russian inequality, on the contrary, is a would be if the weal- lost everything, while others
eight years. Indeed, wages eliminate “poverty” altogether gether with rising overall inco- phenomenon? I think it is. The brake that gives rise to a host
thy had incomes 7-9
saw fortunes fall on their laps.
have continuously outpaced by manipulating the data. mes and GDP. mechanism of wealth distribu- of societal problems.
GDP growth throughout the To address this problem, Euro- In fact, this is not unusual: the tion in Russia today differs So where is the boundary bet-
times those of the po-
Most people felt that it was not
decade and annual real wage pean countries tend to use a contrast between these two drastically from that of develo- ween “normal” and “excessive”
or, and not 20 times,
fair. Hence depression and
psychological stress have
increases have remained in relative poverty indicator. This approaches to defining poverty ped countries. That explains inequality? Our data sugges- as they do today taken their toll on the economy
the double digits, bringing tan- approach measures the distri- is striking. When pensions and the paradox of relative poverty ted that, for Russia, the opti- and on Russian society as a
gible results for the general po- bution of wealth in society, ra- wages rise, the absolute num- rising along with economic mum level would be if the weal- whole: 60 percent of Russians
pulation. ther than absolute poverty, by ber of poor people goes down. growth. Our Institute ran a se- thy had incomes 7-9 times In the United States the in- don’t make enough money to
As a result, the absolute num- determining the “poor” to be That makes sense. But relative ries of mathematical regressio- those of the poor, and not 20 equality coefficient is 14. In meet their economic potential.
ber of poor people (e.g., those persons with incomes less than poverty keeps growing, and it ns to study the dependence times, as it is today. Europe Brazil, it’s even higher than in If the government is serious
living below the threshold of 60 percent of the per capita na- increases more in wealthy re- between inequality and key so- arrived at approximately the Russia. Yet both of these coun- about increasing people’s well-
poverty) is dropping: from over tional average. In Russia, gions. Moscow is a good exam- cial and economic indicators in same conclusion by “groping in tries have experienced high le- being, making our economy
40% at the beginning of the de- under the monthly average of ple of this: about 13 percent of Russia. We found that there is the dark,” graduating towards vels of economic growth. The more efficient and solving the
cade to around 20% today. 6,500 rubles ($268), this me- its residents live in absolute po- hardly any link between abso- that ratio over decades of trial explanation for this lies in the demographic crisis, it will have
However, the problem with this thod would classify almost half verty, but 57 percent would be lute poverty and these indica- and error. However, up until fact that our “optimum level” to address the problem of in-
statistic is that it is defined ex- of the population as “poor.” Pa- considered “poor” according to tors, while relative poverty de- now, all arguments concerning data only applies to Russia. It equality in the near future.
Cinema A Russian triumph at the Oscars? Two Russian directors are up for the prestigious prize
William J. Burns, U.S.
Russian Films Are Nominated for an Oscar
Ambassador to Russia
“12” is not only a brilliant film, it
is a powerful reminder of the
good that can come from en-
gaging citizens directly in their
Nikita Mikhalkov, regarded was included in the shortlist of own judicial institutions through
by some as Russia’s Steven five nominees. This is a very the jury system.
Spielberg, has already won important event for me,” It is fitting that a great Russian
an Oscar Award for Best Mikhalkov told RIA Novosti. director, Nikita Mikhalkov,
Foreign Film once: in 1994, “12” was also awarded a should make a new, Russian
for “Burnt by the Sun” (a tale Golden Lion in Venice and a version of the classic American
of Stalin-era repression). Golden Amvrosi at the Milan drama “Twelve Angry Men,” for
This year, he is back with film festival. “12” reminds us that the U.S.
his latest film, “12,” which The other four nominees an- and Russia share great legal, as
made the shortlist of five nounced on Tuesday are Ka- well as cinematic, traditions.
contenders for the award. zakhstan’s “Mongol” by Ser- Taken together, “Twelve Angry
gei Bodrov, Austria’s “The Men” and “12” remind us that
“12” is a remake of Sidney Lu- Counterfeiters” by Stefan Ru- trial by jury is one of the great
met’s 1957 “12 Angry Men,” zowitzky, Israel’s “Beaufort” traditions shared by the U.S.
but with a Russian twist. The by Joseph Cedar and Po- and Russia. Trial by jury has
story is of a Chechen teenag- land’s “Katyn” by Andrzej been one of the most basic
er accused of murdering his Wajda.
rights of Americans since the
father, an officer in the Rus- The winner in the Best For- founding of the United States in
eign Film category will be an- multaneously been compet- nores the most realistic, perti- “The Counterfeiters,” which the late 18th Century. Russia’s
Before the trial has even start- Nikita Mikhalkov after receiving nounced at the Oscars cere- ing for an Oscar. Even though nent and most famous inter- takes place during the Holo- 1864 legal reforms mandated
ed, most of the jury has al- the Golden Lion award for “12” mony on February 24. “Mongol” is being promoted national films. Russia, howev- caust, features an immigrant trial by jury and immediately
ready made up its mind at the Venice Film Festival However, according to the as a Kazakh film, its produc- er, has still managed to have from Odessa in the leading Russia began to produce some
against the boy. newspaper Vedemosti, re- tion was international. some influence on all five role (one can hear Russian of the world’s greatest trial law-
For over eight years, gardless of which film is cho- The Foreign Film category of nominees: “Katyn” is about speech in the background yers.
Mikhalkov has evaded the opened it caused quite a stir, sen, the event will be a victory the Oscars is probably the the clandestine shooting of throughout the movie). Final-
limelight, producing no mov- raking in over $2 million dur- for Russia. Never before have most interesting of them all. It Poland’s elite officer corps by ly, the tragic “Beaufort” tells This article was prepared
ies since releasing his “Barber ing its opening week. two Russian directors seems that, in choosing the Stalin’s secret police during the tales of several Russian using texts from various
of Siberia” in 1998. When “12” “I am overjoyed that the movie (Mikhalkov and Bodrov) si- nominations, the jury often ig- World War II. Ruzowitzky’s émigrés. Russian media outlets
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