According to a survey conducted by the National Living Standards Center, the number of people living in poverty in Russia started to drop in the first half of 1997, although the gap between rich and poor continued to grow. The study found that the number of people living in families earning less than the minimum subsistence level nationwide fell from 362 per 1000 population in 1995 to 333 per 1000 in 1997. As of August 1997 the national average poverty line stood at 356,200 rubles ($65) per capita per month. (Segodnya, September 22)
Although absolute poverty appears to be declining, relative poverty is increasing, since over the same period the number of well-off families grew at a faster rate. The number of persons living in households with a per capita income twice the subsistence minimum rose from 345 to 392 per 1000 between 1995 and 1997. This means that the decile ratio (the ratio of the income of the top 10 percent of the population to the bottom ten percent) grew from 10.2 in 1995 to 12.2 in 1997.
The decrease in poverty was most striking in Moscow itself, where the number living below the poverty line (set at 404,600 rubles for that city) halved over the past two years, falling from 123 to 63 per 1000. The number of well-off in the nation’s booming capital also grew, from 683 to 787. The decile ratio in Moscow declined from 27.1 to 17.1, but remains much higher than the nationwide average.
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