Author`s name Michael Simpson

Russians to Live in Want for Decades

Wages of some Russians are 30.5 times higher than income of poorer population!
A Coordination Council for the realization of the healthy nutrition governmental program held an opinion poll in April. The results of the poll were voiced at a press-conference on the subject "Attitude of the population to healthy nutrition". During the poll 1,110 Muscovites were questioned; as it turned out, almost 75% of them stick to healthy mode of living, although only 14% have a notion what it is.

The assumption that customers pay attention to prices first of all was refuted. Even in the group of population with the monthly income of less than 3 thousand rubles per one family member, only 33% try to buy the cheapest products. At the same time, the poll revealed that income of the population is directly connected with organization of healthy nutrition. Majority of respondents with average and low income level say they would oftener buy fruits, juices, vegetables and fish if they had higher income.

The negative results of the poll were impressive: about 50% of the respondents said their nutrition was just partially healthy or unhealthy at all. That was explained with lack of money and the disbalancement of microelements and vitamins in their food. About 40% of Muscovites spend two thirds of their family budget on food, at that over $200 are spent on food in every third family in Moscow.

As the RF State Statistics Committee informs, the annual large-scale spot check at enterprises and organizations of ten industrial spheres and 13 economy branches in all federation subjects and covering 35 million workers revealed that the average monthly wage of 1 million people made up not more than 400 rubles (a bit more than 10 dollars) in 2002. Wages of 2.5 million workers made up 400-800 rubles, and 1.5 million people were paid 800-1,000 rubles. For the period of the spot-check, the average wage in  the country made up 1,408 rubles, while the living wage of able-bodied citizens made up 1,960 rubles for the same period. Two thirds of the sum that are spent on food mean that people had no more money either for health care and recreation or education.

No research of this kind has been held yet this year. However, as experts say, at present not less than 3 million Russians are paid less than 800 rubles per month, wages of 1,2 million people make up 800-1,000 rubles. If two thirds of the sum are deducted from the wage on food, the rest of the sum won't be enough to pay public utilities bills, to buy medicines or other necessary things. 

In the last quarter of 2002, the living wage in Russia made up 2,065 rubles for the able-bodied population. Independent experts reported that wages lower than the living wage were paid to about 10 million Russians at that period. The total number of people with the income lower than the living wage makes up 40 million.

As for the situation in the Russian capital, the average monthly wage in the education sphere makes up 2,800 rubles in Moscow. The living wage of the Moscow able-bodied population makes up 3,325 rubles. As for the Russian regions, wages of 40% of workers in the educational sphere are lower than the living wage. Many young teachers are paid 1,500-1,700 rubles per month, at the same time, experienced teachers are seldom paid more than 2,000 rubles. A sad conclusion cane be drawn in this situation: teachers have no money for good food. Will they be able to teach our children properly then?

As for Russian school children, the situation is sad as well. As the Russian Health Ministry informs, ecology and bad nutrition are the main unfavorable factors influencing children's state of health. About 50% of Russian school children have no hot meals at school, water sanitary norms are poor in 20% of schools. Over 90% of Russian boarding schools have no heating and sewage systems. 87% of Russian children live in the areas of ecological risk, 31% of Russian pupils (5 million children) have to study in two or three sessions.

However, not the whole population of Russia live from hand to mouth. As the State Statistic Committee informs, average wages of 10% of working Russians belonging to the group with high income are 30.5 times higher than wages of the poorest Russians. The ratio allowed in Europe is 7 times; experts say a crisis occurs in a country when the ratio is exceeded. The differentiation level in Russia hasn't changed within the several past years, which means the situation in the social sphere is unlikely to improve in the nearest future. It's sad, but majority of the population will live from hand to mouth for a long time.

MiK news agency