58.4 million people (almost 40% of the population) live only on wages
Photo: Julia PYKHALOVA
THE ECONOMY IS MARKET BUT THERE IS NO BUSINESS
Let’s clarify right away that this is not the data of the next survey, but the official results of the last population census, which took place in 2020-21. Their results were published on the Rosstat website in December. And these data are not very inspiring. Especially if you look carefully at the table on the income of Russians (see “Only numbers”). So, after the calculations, it turned out that 147.2 million people live in our country. To questions on the topic “what do you live on?” 141.8 million responded (including almost 30 million minors, for whom the answer was in the hands of their parents or guardians).
It turned out that 58.4 million people (almost 40% of the population) live only on a salary, 42.7 million (or 29% of the total population) receive payments from the State and one in four is a dependent (78 % from them). are minors).
Only 3.1 million people responded about receiving income from entrepreneurship (or self-employment). And that’s just over 2% of the population. The situation is strange. There is a market economy in the country, but there are practically no businesses. However, the economist Denis Raksha does not see anything strange in these figures.
– In Russia, approximately 3 million people are registered as entrepreneurs – LLC, individual entrepreneur or self-employed, – he says. – This is exactly the same 2% who called entrepreneurship their source of income.
Professor of the Financial University of the Government of the Russian Federation Alexander Safonov Doctor of Economics believes that the difficult period during which the census was conducted could have affected the results.
“It was the time of confinement due to the coronavirus,” recalls the expert. – High growth of unemployment – 4 million people were left without work in the market. The difficulty for a company, especially a small one, was that if earlier the population spent free money on various kinds of services: repairs, entertainment, catering, etc., then people began to save money. And many small businesses have closed. They simply did not have the funds for development due to the drop in the income of the population.
However, even before the pandemic, the number of entrepreneurs in Russia was not too high. According to the authoritative international study “Global Entrepreneurship Monitor” in the relatively prosperous year of 2013, the share of entrepreneurs among the adult workforce in our country was 5.75%. According to this indicator, Russia was on the same level as countries such as Spain (5.21%), Finland (5.29%), Greece (5.51%), Norway (6.25%). However, in the BRICS countries this figure was higher: in Brazil 17.3%, in China – 14.02%, in South Africa – 10.59%, in India – 9.88%. So we clearly have room to grow.
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Another interesting number. A third of the country’s inhabitants (42.7 million) live on various benefits. Even if we subtract pensioners (29.4 million) from this figure, there is still a lot left. This category of citizens includes recipients of unemployment benefits, social benefits, child benefits, benefits and subsidies, payments to pregnant women…
– It’s a lot or a little, it’s hard to say, – says Denis Raksha. – We cannot even compare with other countries, because there is no country like Russia, all countries are different and the comparisons are wrong.
– Every time the economic situation worsens, the amount of funds that the population receives from the budget increases, – explains the expert Safonov. – This is due to the fact that the state is trying to provide assistance in the form of benefits and other material payments (as was the case during the pandemic) first of all to those in need. Basically, these are families with children, the unemployed, retirees.
Regarding sources of income, most of the population (116.8 million) have only one source of income. Although any economist will say that in order for the financial situation of a certain citizen (and his family) to be stable, it is necessary to diversify income. After all, contract work (and therefore wages) may be lost. Therefore, it is good when, in addition to it, a person has the opportunity to receive income in the form of dividends from shares, interest from bank deposits, rental of real estate, additional income through part-time work after hours, as a freelance consultant, etc.
And yet the situation is not hopeless. According to Professor Alexander Safonov, it is important to take two important steps that guarantee changes for the better.
Step 1. Management of the income of the active population. For a long time, the State was cautious with the increase in the minimum wage (SMIC). Until 2008, in general, it was significantly lower than the subsistence minimum – 2300 rubles against 4630. And only in recent years have they become approximately equal. As of January 1, 2023, the minimum wage in the country amounted to 16,242 rubles, and the cost of living to 14,375.
“But this is not enough,” Safonov is sure. – The minimum wage must be 1.5 times above the subsistence level. The minimum wage is the base rate on which the entire wage system is based. And if we want to seriously stimulate the development of business activity, we must provide companies with consumer demand. So that people have concrete money. In Europe, small and micro-enterprises generate up to 30% of GDP revenue. These are public catering, tutoring, repair of home appliances, furniture, etc. That which provides normal living conditions for human life. But for a person to use it, he needs money. But where can you get them if your salary is equal to or less than the minimum wage (according to data for 2021, there were almost 690,000 such people in the country – Ed.). And they have to pay 13% tax. How can these people help develop consumer demand? No way. They will always be in the neck of the budget. Will it drive up inflation? No. From 2005 to 2010, the minimum wage was increased by 5 times and this did not affect inflation in any way.
Step 2. The state’s struggle for the protection of the property rights of businessmen.
– A person has started a successful business, he must be sure that he will not be strangled by endless checks, taxes, corrupt decisions and illegal persecution by law enforcement agencies. He passes with us, after all,-says the expert.
The main sources of income of Russians according to the 2020-2021 census
58.4 million – salaries
42.7 million – pensions, benefits and other state payments
32.5 million – dependent
3.1 million – business income or self-employment
2 million – scholarship
2 million – production of own goods (mainly agriculture)
567 thousand – savings, dividends, interest
314 thousand – real estate rental
62.8 thousand – income from patents
49 thousand – another source of income
Number of sources of income
116.8 million – one
10.5 million – two
1 million – three
165.5 thousand – four