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­­­Monitoring of Socioeconomic Behavior of Russian Households and Social Problems of Childhood

Priority areas of development: economics, sociology
Department: Centre for Longitudinal Studies

Goal of research is to analyze household socio-economic behavior in 1994—2015 and to assess the relative well-being of the households with minors and the availability of educational and medical services for children and teenagers of various social background.

Methodology: quantitative analysis of the data obtained from the series of nationally representative household-based longitudinal surveys, covering the period between 1994 and 2015.

Empirical base of research: “Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey of HSE” (RLMS-HSE) database, which combines the data collected from 1994 to 2015, with the particular focus on the data collected between October, 2015 and January, 2016.

Results of research:

In 2015, a real household income continued to drop, however, at a slower pace than in the previous year. While an average income fell by 5.4% in 2014, it decreased by 1.1% in 2015, going below the level of 2008. An overall decrease in work-related income amounted to 5.6 per cent. Income from employment went down by 11.8% in state-owned enterprises, dropped by 1.9% in private organizations but rose by 19.4% in public-private companies. Household income from transfer payments grew by 8.2%. Total money and in-kind revenue from domestic production and informal economy also showed a 10.1-percent increase, while income from charity and help of relatives fell by 2.5%.

The share of work-related income declined by 2.6 per cent and accounted for 45.1% of total household income. Meanwhile, the share of transfer payments reached an ever high, rising from 40.1% in 2014 to 42.1% in 2015. The proportion of the household income related to domestic production increased from 5.9 to 6.7% and the share of charitable donations remained stable at 5.3%.

The income inequality decreased since the income of households in three bottom income quintiles experienced a slight rise, while the income of two upper quintiles showed a continuous downward trend. Households in the richest quintile had 2.8 times more income than households in the poorest quintile, which was a bit lower compared to a three-fold advantage the upper quintile enjoyed in 2014. The share of work-related income fell both in affluent and deprived households. The share of transfer payments, while dropping in lower-income families, grew by 5.8% in the wealthiest 20 per cent of households.

In 2015, household expenditures went down by considerable 8 per cent, which was in stark contrast to their stagnation in 2014. Although food expenditures rose by 2%, non-food expenditures plunged by 12%. This disrupted a long-term trend towards the spending pattern with a significantly greater proportion of non-food expenditures as the share of money spent on food increased from 39.1% in 2014 to 41.5% in 2015. It is noteworthy that the rise of food expenditures largely affected households in the upper income quintile.

Despite a significant decline in non-food expenditures, the household possession of consumer durables increased. Compared to 2014, the percentage of households with a «No Frost» refrigerator rose from 57.1 to 60.8%, with a washing-machine — from 79.5 to 80.8%. However, the percentage of households reported to buy a new car or have a personal computer stagnated, with a respective negligible increase of 0.1 and 0.4%.

The general unemployment rate grew from 4.8% in 2014 to 5.5% in 2015, with the official unemployment rate climbing from 3.8 to 5.4% in male population and from 4.2 to 5.7% in females. The male participation in the workforce went up from 84.4 to 85.2%, while the female participation scaled back slightly, from 80.2 to 79%. The numbers of male workers also continued to outstrip the numbers of females in private and public-private companies by 8 per cent in 2014 (39.4 against 31.4%) and by 10% in 2015 (42 against 32%).

In 2015, women earned 74.1% of male work-related income, which shows a gentle increase in comparison to 72.8% in 2014. The gender gap in earnings amounted to 74% in private and public-private companies and to 76% in public sector. However, when it came to cash-in-hand jobs, largely dominated by female workers, the gender gap widened as women earned only 55% of their male co-workers.

The proportion of employees who were to receive back pay grew from 2.5% in 2014 to 2.8% in 2015. In general, these workers waited for the payment for a month or less, however, an average amount of money due in back pay increased by 10.5% compared to 2014.

The share of households struggling to pay rent and/or utility bills continued to grow, with 8.4% of families failing to foot the bill in 2015.  An average amount of money due went up by 5.4% compared to 2014, while increasing almost four times compared to 1998.

The proportion of those generally satisfied with their life fell from 51.3% in 2014 to 49.6% in 2015, while the share of those unsatisfied rose from 25 to 26.4%. The level of income satisfaction also went down as 31.8% of respondents appeared anxious about their future economic well-being, which constitutes a significant increase compared to 23% in 2014. On the contrary, the share of economic optimists dropped from 20.4% in 2014 to 16% in 2015. However, the general outlook became just slightly grimmer.

The number of people considering unemployment a serious threat to their economic well-being rose considerably, from 55.5% in 2014 to 64.3% in 2015. In 2015, only 23.1% of respondents felt that their jobs were completely secure. The share of working-age fully-employed respondents, who felt confident about finding a new job, decreased from 41.1 to 36.8%, while the percentage of those being anxious about it went up from 40.2 to 44.2%.

Layoffs and closures of enterprises became the primary reason for job loss, with their overall share increasing from 14.4% in 2014 to 17.7% in 2015. Meanwhile, low job satisfaction as a reason for quitting a job became less significant compared to previous years.

In 2015, while looking for a new job, respondents appeared more likely to enlist the help of friends (86.6 %) or search for an offer on-line (52%). In addition, 43.4% contacted companies directly and 41.7% looked through job offers in printed press. State and private employment agencies also gained ground as 39.7 and 12.9% of jobseekers opted for their help.

In 2015, an average income earned by families with one, two, three or more children accounted for 79, 63 and 48% of what the households without minors made. While the share of two-parent families dropped from 79.1% in 1994 to 74.8% in 2015, more and more minors appeared to live in extended families (their share rose from 23.3% in 1994 to 29.3% in 2015). During the period, the proportion of households with three or more children increased, however, so did the share of families with an only child. Although since 1994 parents got more educated, more than a half of minors were born to parents without an academic degree in 2015. While the education of parents, along with the level of urbanization, household income and the total number of children, considerably affected the quality of schooling and extra-curricular activities, it might also have an impact on diagnosing and preventing chronic diseases in children and teenagers.

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

The database “Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey of HSE” (RLMS–HSE), 1994–2015 rounds (Russian and English versions) with documentation in Russian and English, is publicly available at http://www.hse.ru/rlms. In 2016, 30 papers in Russian and English were published using the RLMS-HSE database (the full list of publications is available at http://www.hse.ru/rlms/2016).