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Contents and Summaries

Russian society : income and consumption


From the Standard of Survival Toward Responsible Choice


The advancement to the higher consumption standard means enables spending beyond acquiring essential goods and services. This includes spending on leisure-time activities, investment in the human capital, and purchasing goods that enhance opportunities for further development. These trends are clearly observed among the urban population, especially when projections of consumption levels among affluent large-city dwellers are made. However, it is still early to talk about the creationof the new living standard that characterizes the urban middle class.


The Modern Russian Consumer


For the majority of Russia’s population the shift to the higher consumption standards is still being blocked. These standards presuppose that households are able to satisfy a wide range of needs. Instead of creating incentives for higher labor efficiency, which would lead to higher income levels for most Russian citizens, the system under which the state distributes minimal social standards is being strengthened. As soon as opportunities to earn higher than average incomes arise, they are being thwarted by administrative barrier mechanisms and corruption. Uneven Income Distribution:


A Projection In Space


The trend for decreasing disparities in interregional wage and income distribution is unlikely to continue. The change will result from Russia’s greater economic problems and diminished pool of financial resources for redistribution. The political component will also play a role: federal authorities gradually reject the former social contract, which implied income growth in exchange for political stability (lack of public participation in political life).


The Destruction of Small Business


The low levels of entrepreneurial activity result both from the Soviet legacy and the current state policies that encourage public service and hired labor, thus hindering entrepreneurial activity. People routinely witness confiscation of successful businesses from their owners at the hands of government officials and force structure representatives. They also understand that courts will not take their side in such a dispute. It is only natural that in this climate potential entrepreneurs choose to seek employment in the public sector or state-run companies.



Azerbaijan – What Lies Ahead?

Thomas de Waal

Ilham Aliyev is starting his third presidential term from a relatively safe position. Azerbaijan is experiencing unprecedented growth; it signed an important international agreement that would allow for direct gas shipments from the Caspian Sea to the European Union. However, Azerbaijan’s political system is still closed and lacks transparency, which causes concerns. Events in the neighboring countries (Turkey and Russia),whose leaders have been in power for a long time, suggest that even the leaders whose power seemed ironclad face dangerous and unexpected challenges.


One Year of the Georgian Dream

Julie A. George

The trajectory of possible change related to Georgia’s executive branch is clear: the more the country’s leadership will rely on informal influence and Ivanishvili’s clout, the less

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