HSE University Re-Launches Monitoring Study of the Population’s Social Well-Being
The HSE Institute for Social Policy is renewing its monitoring of the population’s socio-economic status and social well-being. The first issue includes a 2019 summary and short analysis of the trends related to the Covid-19 pandemic. Experts have concluded that many unfavourable trends were not overcome last year and that the current crisis will worsen the situation.
Experts from the Institute for Social Policy believe that it is essential to analyse the situation and trends with the country’s living standards today in order to understand what drives attitudes in Russian society when problems unexpectedly arise. ‘In this context, we believe there is a need to track living standards dynamics in Russia,’ the report authors said.
One of the key trends is the fact that last year, the previously established negative trends were not overcome as it relates to the population’s real disposable incomes. The preliminary data show that they grew by less than 1% a year. The unfavourable dynamics of average incomes were not accompanied by considerable changes in their differentiation.
Purchasing power remained weak in 2019, leading to a slowdown in the growth of consumer prices. December 2019 inflation as compared to December 2018 was 3%, which is considerably lower than the 4% target level set by the Bank of Russia. Consumer spending patterns are still dominated by expenses on current consumption: four fifths are spent on goods and services, about one sixth on mandatory payments and only a few percent on savings.
Buying on credit is widespread among the population, but even more widespread is the notion that it is better not to buy on credit. People’s attitudes towards consumer loans is closely related to their general assessment of changes in living standards: increasing confidence in the future of people’s own well-being promotes borrowing activity.
Public attitudes remain calm, but generally pessimistic today
Analysts from the HSE Institute for Social Policy say that based on the published data, the previously formed socio-economic trends held steady in the first two months of 2020 as it relates to the population’s incomes, consumer inflation and inflation expectations, purchasing power, borrowing and savings behaviour, public attitudes, and expectations regarding the future.
‘The same can be said about public attitudes: the surveys have confirmed slightly positive attitudes, which, as in previous years, were based on negative adaptation mechanisms; hence, they’re not a forecaster or source of positive change,’ the report says.
Since the middle of March, the situation in households has begun to change rapidly. The introduction of a self-isolation regime on March 26 marked the beginning of a strict limitation of consumer demand. Despite the fact that the self-isolation regime has been defined by authorities as non-working days with paid leave, decreasing incomes and dismissals are obviously inevitable, the researchers say.
The experts believe that the list of anti-crisis measures will expand. They argue that state funding needs to be provided to support state salaries for employees who are temporarily not working. There also needs to be adoption of solutions to support companies from the most affected industries and large-scale support for the unemployed.
‘We are going to see the scale of the latest economic crisis in some kind of distant future, the horizon of which largely depends on the epidemic curve not only in Russia, but globally. Similarly, we will be able to assess the effectiveness of the protection policies that have been implemented. Furthermore, restoration policies will be needed, since exiting the current extraordinary regime will not be easy. The effectiveness of the latter policies will also be the subject of future research,’ the authors conclude.
First-year undergraduate students of the HSE Faculty of Biology and Biotechnology took part in an online seminar at George Mason University (USA). The seminar was part of the Coronavirus Research Update summer course, taught by Professor Ancha Baranova.
State and Civic Efforts Helped Save at Least 80,000 Lives in Russia During the Pandemic, HSE Experts Say
In a study, ‘How Many Deaths from COVID-19 Were Avoided by Russian Society’, experts from HSE University found that the restrictive measures taken by the Russian government and its citizens to combat the spread of the virus saved the lives of tens of thousands of Russians.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the whole country ended up in self-isolation, some people have to ask for support, others prepare themselves in readiness to provide it. Have Russians felt more cautious in recent months, or do people who have been forced to stay at home still remember how to trust and help? In order to find the answers to these questions, we can analyse the data from a new all-Russian survey conducted by HSE Centre for Studies of Civil Society and Non-Profit Sector.
In this, the fifth issue of our newsletter, HSE experts comment on the government’s 'Action plan for the business and citizens income recovery and economic growth', elaborate on the May outcomes of the OPEC+ deal and analyze how psychologically challenging it will be for Russian employees to go back to their offices.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, HSE University, as well as other universities around the world, has had to quickly transition to online learning. How have students and instructors adapted to distance learning? What are the challenges that the university has faced? How have assessment mechanisms changed? HSE administrators and instructors answer these questions for the HSE News Service.
Approximately six months before the introduction of restrictive measures, the Laboratory of Cultural Economics at the St. Petersburg campus of HSE began a study of how Russian and foreign museums conduct their online educational activities. The researchers released their initial findings in late January 2020, having managed to “take the temperature” of this market before the pandemic hit. Professor Valery Gordin and Research Associate Irina Sizova explain what it was like before the coronavirus crisis and how it will look afterwards.
Income, Poverty and Employment in the Age of COVID-19: Anti- and Post-crisis Social Protection Policies
Many countries discovered that their social support systems were unprepared to respond quickly to the coronavirus crisis and that emergency measures were needed to protect incomes and jobs. This was the message that experts of the HSE Institute for Social Policy, Financial Research Institute (FRI) and World Bank delivered at a joint seminar.
After HSE University transitioned to distance learning, life in the HSE dormitories changed: most students have gone home. The number of onsite staff and service employees has been reduced. Large events have been cancelled. Student trips into the city have been limited. HSE University Life spoke with students and staff about what life under quarantine is like in the dorms.
Sweden is the only country of the European Union that has not taken strict measures against the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s COVID-19 death rate is growing, unemployment is close to record high levels and GDP could fall by 10%. But does this prove that Sweden’s strategy is ineffective? The HSE School of World Economy invited experts to assess its implications for Swedish society.
World Bank—HSE University Webinar Examines the Costs of School Closures During the Covid-19 Pandemic
On May 21, the joint webinar series, ‘Education under COVID-19: Problems, Solutions, Perspectives, Research’ began with a session about the effects of school closures under the pandemic. Harry Anthony Patrinos of the World Bank presented the results of a model that he and a team of researchers developed in order to predict the extent to which the closures may reduce learning and lead to future losses in labor productivity and earnings for today’s students. The webinar was moderated by Isak Froumin (Head of the HSE Institute of Education), while Professors Tommaso Agasisti (School of Management, Politecnico di Milano) and Sergey Kosaretsky (Director, HSE Centre of General and Extracurricular Education) served as discussants.