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Data from another Levada-Center February 2021 survey of the welfare of the population shows: 25% believe that their income exceeds the required living wage.

Explanation of methodology. Data are based on respondents’ estimates of their expenses per one family member and reflect subjective perceptions of these indicators. Data are averaged over the year. Respondents were asked the question, “What income per person per month does the living wage currently provide?” and the amount of average per capita family income for the past month was found out. The upper and lower percentiles were removed from the array.

The level of the expected subsistence minimum is more than 2 times higher than the officially established by the Ministry of Labor (in 2021 it is 11,653 rubles).

How much money is needed now per person per month … (thousand rubles)

 …to provide subsistence minimum (subjective subsistence minimum)Average family income per capita per monthofficial subsistence minimum (Rosstat)
202124,618,6 (in 2020 – 17,7)11,7

The current study reflects the gradual increase in average per capita income in nominal terms (the average per capita income was 18.6 thousand rubles per month), but the growth rate of the expected living wage is ahead of it (the average estimate was 24.6 thousand rubles per month). The gap between estimates of the necessary minimum for living and the average per capita income only is growing over time: in 2018 the estimate of the necessary minimum exceeded income by 22%, in 2019 by 25%, and in the 2021 survey by 32%. The data obtained indicate a growing distance between the available capabilities of Russians and the resources needed to maintain an acceptable quality of life.

The Levada Center’s research laboratory (Levada Lab) has calculated the indicator of poverty: the proportion of respondents living above the subsistence minimum by year. The research data allow us to draw the following conclusions.

  • In 2021, 25% of respondents considered their income to be above the required subsistence level. The trend points to a continued decline in the proportion of Russians able to maintain an adequate standard of living (2017 – 26%, 2018 – 29%, 2019 – 28%). 
  • This figure is at the level of the 2008-2010 crisis and noticeably below its peak in 2014-2015. 
  • In the long-term, there has been a noticeable decline since 2015, which was interrupted in 2018, marking a new period of adaptation of Russians to worsening economic conditions. Surveys in the last two years indicate a less sharp, but steady, deterioration trend.

The estimate of the required subsistence minimum depends, among other things, on the size of the settlement. The average estimated minimum income level was calculated for each type of settlement. In Moscow, two-thirds of the respondents estimate their income to be higher than the required subsistence minimum in the region. Residents of large and medium-sized cities assess their situation significantly worse: only about a third of respondents believe that they earn more than the minimum required. In small towns and rural areas, the share of such respondents is about 15%.

The estimation of necessary subsistence minimum (average for the size of the settlement)

Moscowmore than 500 thousandbetween 100 and 500 thousandcities up to 100 thousandvillage

Stepan Goncharov

Olga Karaeva

This survey was conducted February 18 – 24, 2021, among a representative sample of all Russian urban and rural residents. The sample was comprised of 1601 people aged 18 or older in 137 municipalities of 50 regions of the Russian Federation. The survey was conducted as a personal interview in respondents’ homes. The answer distribution is presented as percentages of the total number of participants along with data from previous surveys.

The statistical error of these studies for a sample of 1600 people (with a probability of 0.95) does not exceed:

3.4% for indicators around 50%

2.9% for indicators around 25%/75%

2.0% for indicators around 10%/90%

1.5% for indicators around 5%/95%

The ANO Levada Center has been included in the registry of non-commercial organizations acting as foreign agents. Read the Director of the Levada Center’s statement of disagreement with this decision here.


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