In the USA, a person earning $930 or less per month is deemed to fall below the “poverty” level and is considered poor.
In Russia, the figure is $200 per month.
So the poverty income ratio between the USA and Russia is roughly 5:1.
So the ordinary income ratio between the USA and Russia is roughly the same as the poverty ratio, 5:1. The average American poor person has about five times more income than the average Russian poor person, and the average American also has about five times more income.
Of course, nobody in their right mind would suggest that the cost of living in Russia is five times lower than in the United States. In fact, the giant Russian city of Moscow, for example, is routinely ranked as one of the most expensive places to live on the entire planet. Sony TVs, Levi’s jeans, Big Macs, VWs, they all cost pretty much the same no matter where you go.
So, to the extent that the cost of living in the USA isn’t five times higher than Russia, the Russian definition of “poverty” is much too miserly compared to that of the USA. Of course, by defining poverty in a miserly way, the Russian government gets to claim that fewer Russians are living in poverty than there actually are, making itself look better.
And in fact, most reasonable people accept that the Kremlin sets the “poverty” level artificially — indeed, ludicrously — low in order to make itself look good, by magically erasing the number of poor people, with the stroke of a pen.
But even by miserly Russian standards, Moscow Times reporter Howard Amos reports that the condition of poverty in Russia is worsening. Statistics show that there are now 400,000 more Russians living in poverty, as the Kremlin defines it, than there were in 2007. There has been no decline in “poverty” as the Kremlin defines it in more than five years. As has been pointed out, three times more Russians live on less than $7 per day than have ever traveled abroad.
Russia is a poor country, and getting poorer. No amount of Kremlin sleight of hand can change that. And the day of reckoning is coming fast and soon.