According to the Ministry of the Economy, the number of Russians living below the poverty line rose from 40 million in 1998 to 50 million in 1999, a little more than one-third of the total population. The rise in poverty seems to run counter to officially recorded positive economic trends, including growth of about 1 percent in gross domestic product. The apparent contradiction suggests rising inequality in the distribution of income, or unreliable data, or both.