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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
This article examines the issues with structuring members of Russian society based on level on income among post-Soviet Russia’s population. Analyzed are the material differentiation tendencies of society as a whole, where a marked distance has developed between those who have achieved a certain level of material prosperity – which allows leading a socially acceptable lifestyle – and those who lack the opportunity to fulfill their needs, and who have limited resources at their disposal for the development of their human potential and the improvement of their social and material status. Analysis is based on official statistics and results from an all-Russian monitoring survey conducted by the Center for the study of socio-cultural changes of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Philosophy. It is revealed that absolute and relative poverty levels, as analyzed based on official Rosstat data, do not correspond with the actual picture when it comes to the spread of material disadvantage in the country. Said levels should be revised, raising the bar for absolute and relative poverty, given how members of the population evaluate their own living standards. Even the reviewed official statistical data on income and savings indicate an increase in material differentiation, while various groups of the population remain poor. Not only absolute, but also relative poverty is a serious obstacle, which hampers the development of human potential and its transformation into human capital. The poor lack a budget for development which could contribute to forming human capital. The usual practices of increasing income among underprivileged groups by way of increasing social benefits cannot lead to an expected long-term effect until a different method for income growth is promoted, by way of efficient employment and developing the private sector of the economy. This article demonstrates that the formation of human capital in the country is associated with a more equitable distribution of public wealth, with developing a market contractual economy and a system of social guarantees. Society should also focus its attention on equal opportunity from the first steps when it comes to education the younger generation, while providing an increased level of government support for all levels of the educational system in the name of that objective. The educational system should not reproduce an ever increasing differentiation in living standards: its actual task is to provide upward mobility for capable children from all groups of society, regardless of income level.
absolute poverty, relative poverty, income, savings, development resources, human capital, initial justice.
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