Russians quality of life improved over last decade

Russians are better off now than ten years ago, OECD reports. This photo is from a market in Nikel.

Russia has “made progress” in improving the quality of life of its citizens over the last decade, a new study by OECD says.


According to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Better Life Index, which comprises 34 developed and developing economies, Russia has made progress over the last decade in improving the quality of life of its citizens, despite lower than average scores in some topics.  

In Russia, the average household net-adjusted disposable income is €11,326 a year, less than the OECD average of €17,044 a year. But there is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn nine times as much as the bottom 20%.

In terms of employment, around 68% of people aged 15 to 64 in Russia have a paid job, slightly above the OECD employment average of 66%. Some 72% of men are in paid work, compared with 64% of women. People in Russia work 1,981 hours a year, more than the OECD average of 1,776 hours.

In Russia, 91% of adults aged 25-64 have earned the equivalent of a high-school degree, much higher than the OECD average of 74%. 90% of men have successfully completed high-school compared with 93% of women. In terms of the quality of the educational system, the average student scored 469 in reading literacy, maths and science in the OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), lower than the OECD average of 497. On average in Russia, girls outperformed boys by 15 points, higher than the average OECD gap of 9 points.

In terms of health, life expectancy at birth in Russia is 70 years, ten years below the OECD average of 80 years. Life expectancy for women is 76 years, compared with 64 for men.  Russia could do better in terms of water quality, as only 49% of people say they are satisfied with the quality of their water, below the OECD average of 84%. The level of atmospheric PM10 – tiny air pollutant particles small enough to enter and cause damage to the lungs – is 16 micrograms per cubic meter, lower than the OECD average of 21 micrograms per cubic meter.

Concerning the public sphere, there is a moderate sense of community and level of civic participation in Russia, where 87% of people believe that they know someone they could rely on in time of need, less than the OECD average of 90%. Voter turnout, a measure of public trust in government and of citizens’ participation in the political process, was 65% during recent elections; this figure is lower than the OECD average of 72%. There is little difference in voting levels across society; voter turnout for the top 20% of the population is 70% and for the bottom 20% it is 66%, a much narrower gap than the OECD average gap of 12 percentage points, suggesting there is broad social inclusion in Russia’s democratic institutions.

In general, Russians are less satisfied with their lives than the OECD average, with 74% of people saying they have more positive experiences in an average day (feelings of rest, pride in accomplishment, enjoyment, etc) than negative ones (pain, worry, sadness, boredom, etc). This figure is lower than the OECD average of 80%, the study says.