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Monitoring of Socio-economic Behavior of Russian Households and prevalence of healthy lifestyle

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 and prevalence of healthy lifestyle among Russians.

Methodology: quantitative analysis of the data obtained from the series of nationally representative household-based longitudinal surveys, covering the period between 1994 and 2014.

Empirical base of research: “Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey of HSE” (RLMS-HSE) database, which combines the data collected from 1994 to 2014. 

Results of research:

Average real household income dropped by 5.4% from 2013 to 2014. While an overall decrease in work-related income amounted to 3.8%, income from working for private organizations went down by 5% and income from state-owned and public-private enterprises dropped by 3.5 and 4.3% respectively. Household income from transfer payments rose by 4%. Total money and in-kind revenue from domestic production and informal economy showed a 24.9% decrease as well as income from charity and help of relatives, which also dropped by 26.5%.

Work-related income and transfer payments continued to constitute the bulk of household income. However, while the share of work-related income remained stable and accounted for 47.7% of total household income, the share of transfer payments reached an ever high rising from 38.6% in 2013 to 40.1% in 2014. The proportion of the household income related to domestic production and charity and help of relatives showed the reverse trend hitting a low with 5.9% and 5.4% respectively.

Households in the bottom income quintile experienced an 11% income increase, while the income of the richest income quintile fell by 15%. Wages amounted to 61.2% of the total income of the wealthiest households and this was one and a half times higher compared to the households of three middle income quintiles and three times higher compared to the poorest households. Meanwhile, lower income households received 37.1% of their income from transfer payments. For the wealthiest 20% of households, transfer payments accounts for only 23.8% of total income. Although households in the richest quintile had three times more income than households in the poorest quintile, this number was considerably lower compared to 2013 when there was a four times difference in their incomes.

In 2014, household expenditures went up by negligible 0.2% since food expenditures rose by only 0.8% and non-food expenditures almost stagnated. The average food budget share accounted for 39.1% of total household spending. It is worth noting that the expenditures of the poorest households grew much faster than of those the wealthiest ones. Households in the bottom income quintile spent on food 48% of their budgets, while food expenditures of the richest households approximately amounted to 17% of their spending.

In 2014, the household possession of consumer durables increased. Compared to 2013, the percentage of household with at least one car rose from 42.5 to 44.1%, with a «No Frost» refrigerator – from 56.1 to 57.1%, with a washing-machine – from 76.7 to 79.5%.  The percentage of households reported to have personal computers reached 67.2%.

Compared to the previous years, the general unemployment rate showed the reverse trend and grew from 4% in 2013 to 4.8% in 2014 since the official unemployment rate climbed from 3.8 to 5.1% in male population; however, it rose slightly, from 4.2 to 4.4%, in females. Long-term unemployment (longer than three months) accounted for 66%, but the percentage of those who were short-term unemployed remained fairly low. With the increasing number of men dropping out, male labor force participation fell from 85.2 to 84.4%. Female labor force participation, on the contrary, went up from 79.4 to 80.2%.

The percentage of working-age males with work-related income fell from 78.7% in 2013 to 77.4% in 2014. Conversely, the percentage of working-age females having work-related income rose from 70.9 to 71.9%. Nonetheless, the gender gap in earnings persisted and working females made 72.8% of what their male counterparts did. However, from 2012 to 2014, the ratio significantly improved for female workers in public sector and state-owned organizations as it went up from 66.1% to 73%.

In 2014, the proportion of those generally satisfied with their life amounted to 44.1% while the proportion of those mostly satisfied comprised another 37.5%. By contrast, the level of income satisfaction went down as soon as the percentage of those who appeared anxious about their future economic well-being considerably increased from 16.4% in 2013 to 23% in 2014, while the number of optimists dropped from 24.9 to 20.4% respectively. The proportion of respondents assessing their economic prospects rather negatively grew from 9.8 to 17.4%.

The number of people considering unemployment a serious threat to their economic well-being rose gradually. In the period between 2012 and 2014, the share of working-age fully-employed respondents, who felt comfortable about finding a new job, decreased from 45.4 to 41.1%, while the percentage of those being anxious about it went up from 37.3 to 40.2%. In 2014, low wages as the primary reason for quitting a job gave way to layoffs and closures of various enterprises. 

From 2000 onwards, there was a significant improvement in public health thanks to the growing popularity of a healthy lifestyle among general population. In the period between 2002 and 2014 the proportion of respondents who considered their health being “good” or “very good” grew from 32.7 to 36.2%.

On the contrary, the consumption of alcohol and tobacco products went down. The proportion of smoking males fell from 64.9% in 2002 to 52% in 2014, though the proportion of smoking females remained fairly stable amounting to 15% in 2014. The prevalence of smoking among teens dropped from 15% in 2011 to 5.1% in 2014. The proportion of male alcohol consumers decreased from 66.2% in 2009 to 53.6% in 2014, the proportion of females consuming alcohol fell from 43.4 to 35% respectively. The alcohol consumption among teens dropped sharply, from 23.8% in 2008 to 3.3% in 2014.

The proportion of respondents retorting taking regular exercise and participating in various sport activities rose from 19.1% in 1996 to 27.5% in 2014 in general public and from 38.2% in 1995 to 45.2% in 2014 in teens and young adults. However, although the prevalence of the healthy lifestyle was on the rise, some teens were still prone to the dangerous and potentially harmful behavior. 

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

The database “Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey of HSE” (RLMS–HSE), 1994–2014 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.


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