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Older people opportunities, socio-economic determinants of active ageing, and public policies

Priority areas of development: economics, state and public administration
Department: Laboratory of Public Sector Economic Research
The project has been carried out as part of the HSE Program of Fundamental Studies.

This project continues the research that was started at the Laboratory for Economic Research in Public Sector in the years 2013-2014.

Research goal: to study opportunities for changing different active aging determinants by introducing public policy measures. Following this goal four main objectives were set and worked out:

  • Social and economic factors determining type of aging (active or ordinary) were estimated;
  • Current opportunities and trends for economic activity of older Russians were estimated;
  • The impact of certain policy measures implemented in different countries to favor active aging were analyzed and the most efficient were selected. The analysis was followed by recommendations to improve social policy measures targeted on older people in Russia.

Methodology: We have searched, selected and then studied Russian and international research papers, legal acts and other documents containing impact evaluation and efficacy estimates of programmes and projects targeted on the elders. We have conducted empirical estimates to describe current situation and trends in labour activity of older people in Russia, their earnings, extra incomes from smallholdings, free time allocation. The social and economic factors associated with probability of being active at the age of 50 and above was studied. The dependent variable was calculated using previously developed index method. Individual characteristics of the elders from Russia, China, Mexico, India and South Africa served as independent variables making possible to compare factor associated with probability of being active in these countries.

Empirical base of research: Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS HSE) (http://www.hse.ru/science/rlms); The Federal State Statistical Service (Rosstat) Labour Force Surveys and The World Health Organization Study of Global Ageing and Adult Health (SAGE)  (http://www.who.int/healthinfo/systems/sage/en/index1.html).

Research results: Our estimates show that the activity level of Russian older adults is low in comparison with countries with similar level of economic development. This lag is observed for all major components of activity – health, participation in society and security. Although in recent decades the employment of the elderly has been growing, it is concentrated mainly in the public sector or in the informal sector of the economy, and the gap in earnings between older and younger workers is growing year by year, which may be seen as an indirect evidence of the discrimination of the elderly.

The Russian elderly, unlike their peers in other countries, are not included in any social activity, except for labour, with the main pastime of elderly Russians being watching TV programs. The share of Internet users is extremely low.

Over the last fifteen years Russian older adults have seen dramatic change in the structure of their economic resources. In particular, role of natural products from smallholdings has reduced significantly. On the contrary, the share of pensions in total incomes of older adults has visibly increased, accompanied by some reduction in share of wages. Today the majority of older Russians are counting on state pension as the main source of their incomes.

One of the important determinants of active aging is the level of education. Ceteris paribus, the more educated a person is, the higher is its activity in the elderly.

The study showed a significant correlation between the index of active aging and healthy lifestyle. In particular, the abuse of alcohol and "abnormal" body mass index (no matter in terms of obesity or underweight) were associated with decrease in probability of being active in the elderly.

As we expected our estimates showed that the percentage of people aging successfully decreases with age. However we have noticed a marked gender difference in favor of males. The proportion of active men was much higher than that among women for every age group.

The analysis of policy measures and projects to promote active aging in different countries confirmed that many national programmes and initiatives have a positive impact and can be viewed as effective.

In Russia public policy aimed at supporting older adults is not focused on active aging goals, and although there are some examples of successful implementation of regional and municipal projects, at the national level there is no strategic instruments addressing the issues of aging. Federal programs and projects aimed at solving different aging problems and at stimulating physical activity, employment, social activity of older adults etc. are still missing. Russia needs a complex strategy developed with the use of modern economic tools to assess the effectiveness of programmes. It is important to take into account all social costs and benefits, as well as intertemporal preferences of the society.

Policy implications of the results. The research findings can be applied in the development of state social policy towards the elderly, in particular, in the justification of the Strategy for senior citizens, which is being developed on behalf of the President of the Russian Federation. The results provide arguments in favor of changing the parameters of the pension system by raising official retirement and the need for special measures to encourage employment of the elderly, as well as all other types of social activity, including training programs, physical activity and healthy lifestyle.


Klepikova E. Estimating the Relationship Between Health and Employment of Russian People in Pensionable Age / NRU Higher School of Economics. Series WP BRP "Economics/EC". 2015. No. WP BRP 100/EC/2015.
Zasimova L. S., Sheluntcova M., Kalinin A. M. Measuring Active Aging for Cross-Country Comparisons and Policy Planning / NRU Higher School of Economics. Series PA "Public Administration". 2015. No. WP BRP 25/PA/2015.
Хоркина Н. А., Филиппова А. В. Физическая активность пожилых людей как объект управляющего воздействия государства // Вопросы государственного и муниципального управления. 2015. № 2. С. 197-222.
Kossova T. V., Sheluntcova M. Evaluating performance of public sector projects in Russia: The choice of a social discount rate // International Journal of Project Management. 2016. Vol. 34. No. 3. P. 403-411. doi
Liudmila Zasimova. The use of medical care and out-of-pocket payments in Russia // Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. 2016. Vol. 44. No. 5. P. 440-445. doi
Kolosnitsyna M., Khorkina N., Dorzhiev H. Determinants of Life Satisfaction in Older Russians // Ageing International. 2017. Vol. 42. No. 3. P. 354-373. doi