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­­­Monitoring of Socio-economic Behavior of Russian Households and Dynamics of Reproductive Behavior

Priority areas of development: economics, sociology
Department: Centre for Longitudinal Studies
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

Goal of research: detailed analysis of household socio-economic behavior, dynamics of reproductive health and patterns of family planningin Russia.

Methodology: quantitativeanalysis of the data obtained from the series of nationally representative household-based longitudinal surveys, covering the period between 1994 and 2013.

Empirical base of research: “Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey of HSE” (RLMS-HSE) database, which combines the data collected from 1994 to 2013.The analysis of reproductive health and family planningis based on the data from a special module implemented as part of two rounds of the longitudinal survey in 2010 and 2012.

Results of research:

After a considerable 7.3% increase in 2012, monthly household gross income contracted dramatically in response to the economic downturn, showing only a 0.6% rise in 2013. An overall increase in work-related income amounted to 2.7% as wages went up by 6.5% at state-owned enterprises and by 1.1% in the private sector. Household income from transfer payments rose by 1.5%, while total money and in-kind revenue from domestic production and informal economy experienced the most significant growth in 15.8%. However, wages and government transfer payments remained the main sources of income. In 2013, while the bulk of Russian households had work-related (66.7%) or transfer-related (72%) income, they accounted for 47.8% and 38.6% of total household income respectively.

The rise of household expenditures lost its pace keeping up with the stagnating household income. After a considerable increase of 14.4% in monthly total expenditure in 2012, household spending rose by only 1.2% in 2013. Food expenditures went up by 0.6%, while non-food expenditures showed a 1.4% growth. As a result, the share of food expenditures in household spending kept on falling from 40.2% in 2012 to 39.7% in 2013, whereas the share of non-food expenditures rose from 59.8% to 60.3%, respectively. Although a slowdown in household expenditure did not affect the average annual spending on durables, households were less likely to have older items replaced with new ones. The percentage of households reported to have personal computers grew from 61% in 2012 to 64.8% in 2013.

The economic gap between upper and lower income households contracted. In 2013, the wealthiest 20% of households earned four times the rate the poorest 20% did, which is significantly less compared to 4.5 times the rate for lower income households in 2012. Moreover, the gap in spending between well-off and badly-off households also narrowed from 7.9 times in 2012 to 7.5 times in 2013. However, the disparity in wages across the regions and economic sectors remained the major source for the economic differentiation of households.

The general unemployment rate hit a low by dropping from 5.1% in 2012 to 4% in 2013. While the unemployment rate fell from 5 to 3.8% for males and from 5.2 to 4.2% for females, there was a slight decrease in the labor force participation rates for both gender groups over the period. However, men kept on surpassing women in terms of labor force participation as well as average wage. In 2013, overall women made 74.6% as much as men in monthly earnings.

The number of households below poverty line continued to hover around the all-time low, at 2.6%. In 2013, the proportion of elderly people and pre-school children living in poverty accounted for 1% and 3.5% respectively. The most disturbing fact is that facing the considerable decrease in real income, poor households adopted the strategies of economic survival shrinking consumption in general and food consumption in particular.

Trends in subjective well-being remained countervailing. The proportion of Russians generally satisfied with their life reached a peak increasing from 52.6% in 2012 to 53% in 2013, whereas the numbers of those unsatisfied declined slightly from 24.7% to 23.8%. By contrast, the level of income satisfaction went down, while economic anxiety rose with the increasing proportion of population preparing for the coming of next economic shocks from 9.2% in 2012 to 9.8% in 2013. The numbers of optimists showed the reversed trend dropping from 29.7 to 26.2% respectively.

People tended to consider unemployment a serious threat to their economic well-being. The proportion of respondents concerned about the possibility of losing their jobs grew from 55.8% in 2012 to 56.5% in 2013, while the share of employees confident of their job prospects fell from 32.1 to 30.1%, respectively. More and more people expressed serious doubts about changing their jobs or finding new ones in case of redundancy. In 2013, they accounted for 37.3% of respondents compared to 38.4% in 2012. Conversely, the numbers of job seekers decreased from 18.9% to 17.2% respectively. Low wages remained the main reason for quitting a current position. While people still considered the help of friends and relatives the most efficient way of finding a new job, employment websites also grew in popularity in 2013.

In recent years, the patterns of female reproductive behavior have experienced a considerable transformation. Russian women became more likely to postpone first births until the age of 25–29, but giving birth at earlier ages with a desirable family size achieved by the time they reach 30 remained a widespread trend. Although the average age of sexual debut went down, the rate of adolescent pregnancy (among 14–19-year olds) showed a significant decrease, falling from 27.3% in 2010 to 18.7% in 2012. The general abortion rate also was in decline dropping from 0.8 to 0.6 abortions per woman over the observed period. The overwhelming majority of women who had an abortion applied for professional medical help, however, many of them had to pay for it. Nevertheless, women were generally satisfied with the quality of reproductive medical care as well as family planning services. 

The majority of respondents expressed a strong preference for the publicly funded health care system. Personal health conditions along with household health-related expenditures did not have a considerable effect on common attitudes toward health care provision. In 2013, the proportion of those over the age of 18 who used private or corporate healthcare insurance schemes reached only 4.1%, though the insurance costs were mostly covered by employers.

Level of implementation,  recommendations on implementation or outcomes of the implementation of the results:

The database “Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey of HSE” (RLMS–HSE), 1994–2013 rounds with documentation in Russian and English, is publicly available at http://www.hse.ru/rlms.

From 2014 onwards, the English version of the database, which comprises 2013 and the following rounds of the survey, can be downloaded from http://www.hse.ru/en/rlms/downloads (1994–2012 rounds are accessed on request at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carolina Population Center`s website).

In 2014, over 3000 users, including researchers from 34 countries worldwide, requested access to the RLMS-HSE data, while 140 papers in Russian, English and other languages were published using the RLMS-HSE database (the list of publications is available at http://www.hse.ru/rlms/2014). 


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