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Russia, with a population nearing 145 million people has seen a steady increase in poverty rates. In 2008, the number of Russians living on less than $175/month was 18.5 million people. In 2009, the rate has increased 30% to 24.5 million people according to Russia's state reports [1]. By 2011, the number of people under the poverty line was 18.1 million people. This figure represents about 12.8% of Russia's population. Russia's current minimum wage is PP4,600 (Russian Rubles)per month, which equates to about $155 per month. The estimated minimum cost of living per capita is PP6,200 per month which is about $210. The earnings of the rich can exceed the poor by rates of up to 1600%. Vladimir Putin declared in 2011 that the Russian minimum wage would increase in the next few years.[2]

The richest slice of Russian society has doubled its wealth in the past 20 years, while almost two-thirds of the population is no better off and the poor are barely half as wealthy as they were when the Soviet Union fell, according to researchers. Experts at Moscow's Higher School of Economics (HSE) found that the purchasing power of the average Russian has grown by 45% since the early 1990s, but income disparity is widening by the year.[3] In 2011, Russian poverty rates increased by 1.1% which is about 13% of the total population. About 18.1 million live below the poverty line, according to a government statistical agency. Currently, Russia’s minimum wage is about 4,600 rubles, which equates to $155 per month. The minimum cost to live is about 6,200 roubles or $210. Income disparity is increasing, the upper class is earning up to 16 times as much as the poor. Income distribution has become a major problem within Russia and needs to be addressed. The current prime minister, Putin, stated “Over the past few years, this gap has virtually not became smaller”. Putin views this problem very seriously and is determined to solve this issue by the end of the decade. Although, this isn’t the worst degree of poverty Russia has undergone. Back in 1998 and 1999, about 20% of the population was living below the poverty line. [4] The number of Russians with incomes below the minimum cost of living increased by an estimated 1.1 percent in 2011 to 18.1 million people, the Federal State Statistics Service (Rostat) reported on Thursday. This represents 12.8 percent of Russia’s population, currently at some 145 million. Russia’s current minimum wage is about 4,600 rubles ($155) per month, while the minimum cost of living per capita is around 6,200 rubles ($210). Huge income disparity remains Russia’s “main problem,” with the earnings of the richest Russians being 16 times higher than those of the poorest citizens. [5]

Social Welfare

Welfare programs are primarily handled by the Ministry of Social Protection. The ministry deals mostly with the retired and the disabled, other vulnerable groups do not recieve as much attention. There are four extrabudgetary (financers) funds that provide for the federal welfare programs, they include: the Social Insurance Fund, the Pension Fund, the Employment Fund, and the Fund for Social Support.[6]


  1. "". The Guardian
  2. Russia's Poverty Rate Rises
  3. Parfitt, Tom. "Russia's Rich Double Their Wealth, but Poor Were Better off in 1990s." The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 11 Apr. 2011. Web. 23 Apr. 2012. <>.
  5. "Russia's Poverty Rate Rises 1% in 2011 to 18 Mln People." RIA Novosti. 2012. Web. 26 Apr. 2012.
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