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Poverty in Russia


Clarke, Simon (1999). Poverty in Russia. Problems of Economic Transition, 42(5), 5-55.


Assessments of the impact of reform on the Russian population have been almost as divergent as evaluations of the Soviet experience. While the critics of reform are able to point to the officially published statistical data to support their argument that the government's reform policies have had a devastating impact on the Russian economy and population, the most ardent advocates of reform continue to insist that behind the statistics lies a vibrant and dynamic new economy so that Russia, if not booming now, is on the verge of a boom. This debate cannot be settled by impressionistic and anecdotal reports. The official data seem quite implausible to those who have seen the transformation of central Moscow in the past six years or to those who do business with Russians, much of which is transacted offshore and little of which is reported to the tax or statistical authorities. The optimism of the market Bolsheviks is equally implausible to those who see living conditions outside the centers of the main cities. Nevertheless, this does not mean that we have to retreat into the fog of post-modern scepticism. There is a substantial amount of data available and there is a sufficiently wide range of data sources for us to make some tentative assessment of the impact of reform. While the available statistical data are not sufficient to allow us to reach any definitive conclusions regarding the economic and social condition and prospects of Russia, it provides a firmer basis for making an evaluation than does the view from the limousine or the view from the bus queue.

Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Problems of Economic Transition


Clarke, Simon