A comparative analysis of the experience of social and economic modernization in russia and postsoviet countries

Abstract. The author conducted a comparative analysis between the post-Soviet countries in the social and economic spheres. There were highlighted various factors that influence social and economic development: the transit from a planned economy to a market economy; globalization; and resource efficiency.

We are currently at the stage of two transits. On the one hand, there is an unfinished transit from nationalized economy to market economy; and on the other the unfinished transit from national to global economy which has become part of this process. In fact, the first process for post-Soviet countries can be viewed as an adaptation to the second process. Since the economy has acquired a global character, the potential for post-Soviet countries (and other countries of the world) to conduct social policy are objectively limited.

At the same time, we should also take into account the situation in which we find ourselves at the moment, where a certain “rollback” is observed in the process of globalization; and there are attempts to “shut it down” even in those countries in which it originally began (such as, for example, the phenomenon of Trump in the USA). At the same time, globalization is becoming more polycentric. This is shown in the role of China, which is now becoming one of the “pioneers” of the globalization process.

We can now consider the general situation in the post-Soviet countries.

The transit from market economy to state in the 1990s was accompanied by the following factors:

  • – a sharp turning away by states from their obligations;
  • – a society that was significantly weakened in the era of totalitarian politics; turned out to be dependent on the state; and could not compensate for those areas where the state deviated from control over the economy and the social sphere;
  • – states which were unable to effectively finance even those areas where public goods were created (security, education, health), i.e. did not perform their direct functions.

Globalization has joined this, which, due to the increasing influence of world markets, has further weakened the capabilities of post-Soviet states.

All these trends have caused a sharp increase in inequality, for example, for Russia, where the level of inequality according to several analyses came close to what took place in the Russian Empire until 1905 (Thomas Piketty, France); and according to other calculations (Boris Mironov, Russia, St. Petersburg University), is even higher.

In the 2000s, there was a compensation process, which, however, did not fully “overlap” with the problems in social policy that emerged in the 1990s. However, later, due to the dynamics of the world economy and world politics (in particular, the issue of military expenses and sanctions and counter-sanctions which is important for Russia), the state again had to “weaken” its social policy.

In a number of post-Soviet countries (except for the countries of Central Asia and Azerbaijan), we can add to this the demographic crisis. In general, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Georgia and Armenia found themselves in a very difficult demographic situation, since the birth rate is often even lower than in Western countries; and life expectancy is at the level of developing countries. At the same time, countries such as Russia and Ukraine are also characterized by male supermortality (a very large gap in life expectancy between women and men). The average resident of Russia is a woman over 40.

Migration growth gradually ceases to compensate for the natural population decline. For 2019, Rosstat gives a forecast of a population decline through natural loss of 218,300. For 2023, the forecast through natural loss is 366,300 and a migration increase of 274,900.

According to many experts, this makes inevitable a rise in the retirement age in Russia; although, according to opinion polls, the overwhelming majority of the population opposes this (it should be noted that in many other postSoviet countries the corresponding reforms have already been implemented).

Let us now consider the national specifics of the post-Soviet states.

As a rule, economically richer states have more resources for social policy, i.e. all social indicators are “pulled up” to the level of per capita GDP and per capita income level.

In analyzing the situation in Russia, it should be borne in mind that the current foreign policy situation leads to high military spending and other economic costs and hinders the development of an effective social policy. However, when compared with other post-Soviet countries (except for the Baltic states), Russia shows the highest GDP per capita and good economic reform. Even the most ardent critics of the Russian leadership, like former presidential adviser Andrey Illarionov, underline the fundamentally market nature of the Russian economy. It is this market nature of the economy that ensures its sustainability even when under the pressure of sanctions. It should also be noted that social security in Russia is still one of the highest for post-Soviet countries in many respects.

Russia and Kazakhstan are the leaders in per capita GDP among all of the post-Soviet countries. The per-capita-GDP indicator has always been considered the main indicator of development. It is not surprising that we are talking about two countries that are among the most resourcerich ones. However, the efficiency of resource management is no less important (an example is Turkmenistan, in particular - a country also rich in hydrocarbons, but which, according to a number of indicators such as education or health care, has failed to create an effective model).

In general, one should speak about more or less successful models of working within globalization in connection with the efficiency of resource use. In particular, Kazakhstan, on a number of indicators (foreign investment per capita; GDP growth dynamics; degree of economic liberalization in terms of a number of ratings; and successful functioning of the world financial center, outranking Moscow in terms of a number of ratings, etc.) demonstrated rather high efficiency in terms of the economic model. This made it possible to make breakthroughs in some areas of social policy (for example, in the field of education).

Now, let’s consider the new challenges of social policy in the context of globalization. In the context of globalization, for a few countries (primarily the EU countries, USA, Canada and Australia) regulation of the migration regime is no less important than the more traditional issues related to social policy. This is one of the key issues in shaping the political agenda in several countries.

Among the CIS countries, the same phenomena are characteristic of Russia and Kazakhstan, which, due to a relatively higher standard of living, act as centers of attraction for labor migration from neighboring post-Soviet countries. In this regard, for Russia and several Central Asian countries (especially Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan), the use of labor migration under the codevelopment model becomes promising. On the one hand, help is needed for returning migrants so that they can create businesses in their home countries, using the skills and funds received in Russia. On the other hand, it is promising to receive vocational education, and the study of the Russian language at home, even before migration to Russia (with the help of the Russian state, which can and should be one of the main prospects for Rossotrudnichestvo).

Year: 2019
City: Almaty