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Social policy, social stratification, components of the population wellbeing and manifestations of inequality in Russia: analysis of interrelations at various stages of the life cycle

Priority areas of development: economics

The object of this studyis social policy, social stratification, and inequality.

Goal of researchis to examine the relationship between established levels and models of poverty, inequality, vulnerability, social stratification and social policy, well-being in the later life period, various forms of social, family-demographic and economic behavior, including the perception of innovation. This project continues the study started in 2013-2017.

For the project objectives the following methods were used: desk research, theoretical and methodological analysis of Russian and foreign publications; descriptive, multidimensional statistical and econometric analysis of micro-data from sample population surveys; analysis of qualitative sociological data; typology methods; various methods of micromodelling (microsimulation).

Empirical base of research. Most evaluations were obtained using different waves (mainly from 2000 to 2017) of the Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS-HSE) including microdata of sample population surveys such as: Сomprehensive monitoring of living conditions

(2011, 2014 and 2016), European Social Survey (ESS, 2008, 2012 and 2014), monitoring data of the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Science (IS RAS) (2015-2018), Parents and Children, Men and Women in Family and Society (2011), The population perception of socio-economic changes in modern Russia (Institute of Social Policy of the Higher School of Economics, 2017) and others. The results of qualitative research (focus groups or in-depth interviews conducted by HSE in 2017) were used to disclose individual research questions.

Results of research: One of the research results is the proposal of new approaches to define the demand of various social groups for social policy. The impact of structural economic changes, social and tax policies on poverty and well-being of the population were evaluated. Static and dynamic models that evaluate the effects of inequality on the health of older people were tested. Empirical estimates of intergenerational relations quality and the influence of various factors on care of grandchildren are obtained. The methodology of Russian index of older generation life quality has been developed. The review of studies to evaluate the effectiveness of public social spending were conducted. A study on the growth of childlessness revealed the limitations of existing policies targeting families with children.

Among all the research results, the following can be disclosed in more detail:

1. Subjectively and objectively poor Russians are in many ways non-intersecting groups of Russians, each of them covers about a quarter of population. First of all, the dependent burden, including children, leads to objective poverty, as well as living in “small Russia”, in particular - in rural settlements. Subjective poverty is caused by low living standard of elderly people with poor health, family members committed to bad habits (alcoholism, drug addiction), unprotected labor market positions (labor rights infringement, instability, entailing high risks life and expenses), etc. Subjectively poor not only feel their outsider position in society, but their daily psychological state is characterized by anxiety, apathy, irritability, in some cases with anger and aggression. All the Russian poor, singled out on the basis of both subjective and objective criteria, are united with the demand for fair wages and access to effective working places as their poverty is mainly related with their position in the labor market. Objectively poor have higher need in this respect in «small Russia»; for the subjectively poor, whose problems are not related to unemployment, but to vulnerability in labor market. It is necessary to extend the protection measures for workers in the field of social guarantees under labor contracts.

2. The results of micro-simulation modeling allow us to conclude that Russian taxation system creates obstacles for formalization, increasing, rather than reducing, the opportunity costs of formal employment. Formalization will lead to a significant gain for the budget, but it has a negative impact on the income of citizens, especially for the target group, those who should come out of the «shadow economy». The high opportunity costs of formalization can be partially offset by a tax maneuver. Fiscal losses associated with tax maneuvers can be fully compensated if at least 50% of employees are formalized. This scenario is neutral for budget, assuming that the payroll tax burden falls on workers. In the case of complete formalization, the tax maneuver cannot compensate the income loss of population in any scenario. At the same time, the proportion of formalized people is not very sensitive to the increase of net wages after the tax maneuver. This means that tax reforms such as reducing insurance premiums or other direct taxes can have a very limited impact on reducing informality in Russia.

3. The research showed a gradual transition from the «traditional» model of relationships between older people and their grandchildren, in which the main burden of caring for young children falls on grandmothers, to the greater variability of models of such relationships. Grandmothers are still more active in caring for grandchildren in Russia than grandfathers, it is important to note that it does not prevent them from maintaining other types of activity. The proportion of grandparents caring for their grandchildren is higher among working grandparents, than within non-working (including retirees). Communication with their grandchildren which is not considered as their duty but personal choice of older generation, based on their capabilities and needs, contribute the greatest share of satisfaction to grandparents.

4. The ability of people to adapt innovations, including new technical devices, becomes one of prerequisites for better life opportunities and higher quality of life. The following attitudes of population with respect to new technical devices were revealed: 1) perceived usage simplicity of new technological means; 2) perceived utility of new technological tools; 3) perceived safety and reliability of new technological means; 4) perceived elitism of new technological tools. The openness of population to innovations is positively related with perceived ease of use of new technological tools, utility, safety and reliability. People with higher education have higher likelihood of individual's innovative position of higher education. The factor of perceived elitism of new technological means, on the contrary, has a feedback with openness to innovations. Finally, innovation scores decrease as we move from younger age groups to more adults and from better-off to less well-off income levels.

5. In Moscow and, apparently, in other large cities of Russia, all types of childlessness are already exist. The resulting indicators of ultimate childlessness add up here under the circumstances of forced childlessness resulted with health limitation (infertility), postponement childlessness, it is mainly the influence of life circumstances, and, finally, voluntary childlessness. In country as a whole, only the first two types of behavior contribute significantly on the observed dynamics of the final childlessness level. There is no reason to discuss the large-scale spread of voluntary childlessness and child-free conscious installations in Russia. Thus, the issue of childlessness should be taken into account while shaping the political agenda. At the same time, Russia faces challenges in the field of women's reproductive health. The high prevalence of attitudes towards childlessness among men, which causes conflict in reproductive intentions and the possibility of childbearing in partner couples, deserves special attention. This question requires further research and may be the most difficult from the point of developing adequate policy measures. It is not about providing opportunities or removing barriers to the implementation of existing intentions, but about working with the formation of people's attitudes, public opinion, values in this case. A possible direction of state policy in this direction may be the development of a benefits system, vacations and preferences in the field of employment and /or taxation for fathers, popularization of fatherhood, as a social status and lifestyle.

Degree of research results implementation. According to the results of the project 17 scientific publications, including 9 articles in WoS and Scopus journals, were prepared. Some results of the project have been used in preparation of the 2018 analytical notes and expert recommendations, including those, which were directed to the Government of the Russian Federation. The results of modeling the possible effects of tax maneuver on informal employment and incomes of population have particular practical relevance in activities of the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection and the Ministry of Finance of Russia; results of the applied analysis of active ageing index (at the individual level and in connection with the social policy being implemented) for Ministry of Labor and Social Protection.

Level of implementation. The results of this project can be used for consultation of public authorities and improving existing or developing legislation in the fields of social, tax and economics policies and evaluation of their effectiveness, particularly in the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection of Russian Federation, Russian Pension Fund, the Ministry of Finance of Russian Federation, the Ministry of Economic Development of Russian Federation and Ministry of Health of Russian Federation.


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