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Regular version of the site

First International Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey User Conference

On May 17th-18th 2013, the first international conference for users of the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey will take place at the HSE. The deadline for application is March 25th 2013.

The Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS) has been carried out by the Demoscope research center together with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA) and the Russian Academy of Sciences Institute of Sociology since 1994. Since 2006 the HSE has played a significant role in the project’s development, and, as of 2010, the HSE’s name has appeared in the official title of the project.

Today, the RLMS-HSE is virtually the only longitude (panel) study in Russia which has been tracking the state of specific households and individuals over almost 20 years. The study’s representative sample covers about 6,000 households (and over 2,300 families which have changed location but remained part of the panel) and in total includes over 20,000 individuals in 160 localities. A unique feature of the monitoring is the broad coverage of socio-economic indicators. The database gathers information about the structure of revenues and costs, wealth, investment behavior, employment structure, migration behaviour, state of health and food structure, family planning and educational behaviour, as well as the system of values among Russians, their attitudes to reforms and so on.

Polina Kozyreva, Director of the HSE Center of Longitude Studies, told us about the forthcoming first international conference for users of the RLMS-HSE.

— Monitoring has been carried out since 1994, but the first international conference in Russia will take place only this year. Why?

— We have the opportunity to organize an international conference thanks to the financial support of the Higher School of Economics.

Several years ago a project entitled CNEF (Cross-National Equivalent File) was launched at the initiative of US researcher Dean Lillard. It unites and standardizes data from panel studies of households from several countries (Great Britain, Germany, Korea, Canada), and three years ago the RLMS-HSE became part of this international consortium. Our colleagues in each of these monitoring studies regularly hold user conferences, and we are happy that this May we are able to also host such a conference.

— Who will be key speakers at the conference?

— The keynote speakers will include Dean Lillard, Professor at the Cornell University Department of Policy Analysis and Management and Co-director at CNEF, Klara Sabirianova Peter, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, as well as Professor Barry Popkin, who has played a major role in the project’s development since its inception. Now we are in the process of receiving and processing applications. The number of RLMS-HSE users, including international ones, has increased from 12 in 1994 to over 3,000 research institutions, universities, research teams and individual researchers. Of course, our colleagues from the Higher School of Economics actively use the database, and I should also mention a large team of researchers from Novosibirsk University, the New Economic School and other independent economic research centers.

— What are the main requirements for applicants?

— An application submitted in English can be an existing article, or very detailed theses describing the topic of the paper and the results of research and data used in the study. Priority will be given to papers containing the panel part of the monitoring data, as well as papers which use comparable data from the CNEF project in addition to RLMS-HSE data. And of course we assess the innovative approach, credibility and relevance of the methods used.

— What can you say about the aims of the forthcoming conference?

— Authors will get an opportunity to present their results and get expert opinion from colleagues who are familiar with the RLMS-HSE database and are able to give a qualified evaluation of the suggested approaches and research procedures. And for the people who ‘produce’ this data it is very important to get feedback from the users in order to improve the monitoring study and make it more useful both for researchers and working professionals.

Some active users of the monitoring data – Vladimir Gimpelson, Director of the HSE Center for Labour Market Studies, and Sergey Roshchin, Vice Rector of the HSE, shared their opinions about the RLMS project.

Vladimir Gimpelson: In my view, the RLMS survey fulfills three essential functions. First, it is a broad source of information about people’s lives in various areas (labour, education, health, revenues and consumption, social links, relations in a family etc.). Of course, Rosstat (Federal State Statistics Service) also carries out surveys of households, but they do not cover such a wide range of issues and do not monitor changes in the same way. Another important function is educational. We use RLMS data in teaching many courses. Undergraduate, master’s and postgraduate students at the HSE Faculties of Sociology and Economics all actively use monitoring data for writing their yearly and degree papers and theses. We could teach using nominal examples, but that would be another kind of education. And, finally, RLMS data is an important source for research projects on topics related to the socio-economic behaviour of people in Russia. If there were no RLMS, our knowledge about social and economic processes in this country would be much poorer! We are very lucky that there are people who have been dedicating themselves for many years to this very important and useful project. All of us should say ‘thank you’ to them.

Sergey Roshchin: I’ll add that RLMS data is widely used by HSE research departments, as well as the whole academic community in Russia in the process of developing and evaluating key reforms in the social sphere, including pension reform, modernization of the educational system, health care, social aid, evaluation and forecasting of processes on the labour market, population revenues, dynamics of economic inequality, communal services reform and others. The unique data structure allows us to build forecasting models and model the direction of development for a certain process if certain inputs change.

Generally, the Higher School of Economics makes a huge effort towards creating databases, since this is one of the main tools for the research work of economists, sociologists and everyone interested in people’s social and socio-economic life.

Anastasia Chumak, HSE News Service

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