In 2016, CEPR conducted two waves of research on consumer prices for basic goods and services in 12 regions, 17 cities and towns in different parts of the country, from Moscow to small villages. In addition, we conducted a separate study on how Russian families create their family budget: we requested several households from different regions to keep a log of basic incomes and expenditures for one month.
Russian families have to spend most of their income on the minimal life-critical expenses, such as cheap food, medicine, household goods, payment for public utilities and public transport. The minimal leftovers are hardly enough for all other expenses. If the family has only one wage earner, the money may not be enough even for these minimum expenses, especially if there are two or more children in the family.
Not infrequently, both spouses prefer to work and also look for odd jobs in addition to the primary employment. Otherwise, they have to live in a regime of extreme austerity. There is also a common practice of taking loans, and often consumer loans to meet simple needs (purchase of clothes, shoes, household appliances). Finally, a lot of Russians find an additional means of saving the family budget in managing their own household farm.
The pensioners are most victimized. If a pensioner lives only on his or her own pension, almost all of the pension at best covers the most essential expenses, and at worst, does not suffice for them. Unless helped by the relatives, a lone, unemployed pensioner in such conditions has to severely restrict themselves: deny themselves any medications, except for the cheapest, and basic medical treatment, as well as adequate nutrition.
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