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Regular version of the site

RLMS HSE: 20 Years On

The 2nd Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey User Conference takes place on the 22nd and 23rd May 2015 at the HSE. Polina Kozyreva, Director of the Centre for Longitudinal Research at HSE tells the story of the project and explains its importance for current academic research.

A Long History

This survey (RLMS) of the economic well-being and health of the Russian population is the most continuous longitudinal monitoring of households in Eastern Europe and Asia. It has been conducted every year since 1994 (except twice in 1997 and 1999). Only four similar projects can boast of a longer history - the US Panel Study of Income Dynamics (PSID), the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP) and the Luxembourg Household Panel Study (PSELL).

The RLMS is an international research project initiated by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is conducted jointly with the research centre Demoscope and the Institute of Sociology RAS. In 2010 it came under the auspices of HSE and was renamed RLMS HSE whilst maintaining its status as an international project.

Information base

When the monitoring became an HSE project it got stable funding for the first time and could now afford to increase the volume of the sample total by one and a half times - instead of surveying a representative selection of 4 thousand households, it began to question 6 thousand households, — and preserve the integrity of the original panel (counting the number who moved house). It also meant long term plans could be made for the project’s development.

The monitoring is structured in modules. The basic module has hardly changed in more than 20 years. Additional modules are included from time to time, a module on reproductive health for example, a module on diet, and one that registers educational history and employment.

Extensive periods of observation and detailed information about all the members of a household, together with the widest collection of indicators regarding various spheres of activity, mean researchers can analyse both the relations within one generation and follow the connections between different generations as well.

RLMS is different from other similar projects because it collects information on widely varying aspects (income, expenditure, health, employment, education, diet, financial behaviour) all in one database which is really useful for interdisciplinary research.

Since the project came to HSE other special sections keep being added to it to provide quality empirical data to the university in areas most in demand. For several years now the study has collected detailed information about how much households spend on bringing up and educating their children. A special section of questions has been included to analyse the problem of poverty, and the section on the ways people consume alcohol has been extended significantly.

The Project and Research

A special section has been created on the HSE website where you can download questionnaires, teaching materials and raw data gathered in the survey. The data is accessible to Russian and international users. They have grown in number significantly. Between January 2011 and April 2015 more than 4 thousand people have registered on the survey page. And over 1150 new users have appeared in the last five months. Among them, besides researchers and students from Moscow’s leading HEIs and academic institutes, mainly at HSE of course, there are many academics and postgraduates and students from other Russian cities and 340 users from abroad.

The design, the way the questions are formulated and the way the monitoring is carried out in general are all similar to surveys conducted in other countries. This makes an analytical comparison between countries possible which undoubtedly increases the study’s potential as a resource.

Thanks to the survey, academics have primary data they can use to resolve specific research and practical problems.The RLMS-HSE database is recognised by the global research community and articles prepared using it are accepted for publication by leading international academic journals. Between 2010 and April 2015, 746 articles using RLMS-HSE data have been published, 286 of them in English.

Users Conference

The first RLMS HSE users conference was in 2013. The best papers were published by the leading economics journal Economics of Transition in a Special Issue on Economic Change in Russia: Twenty Years of the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey.

It included 6 articles, three of them by HSE colleagues: Informality and mobility: Evidence from Russian panel data by Fabian Slonimczyk and Vladimir Gimpelson; Earnings inequality and informal employment in Russia by Anna Lukiyanova; Changes in household composition as a shock-mitigating strategy by Kseniya Abanokova and Mikhail Lokshin; the article The effect of minimum wage on poverty: Evidence from RLMS-HSE data, by researcher Sergei Kapelyuk from Novosibirsk and two articles by British academics.

At the second RLMS-HSE Users Conference researchers from Belgium, Britain, Germany, Poland and the US will deliver papers alongside their Russian colleagues. Work will be divided into five sections on the themes of health, education, incomes, consumption and the labour market.

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