According to the World Bank, the COVID-19 pandemic will push up to 150 mio people into extreme poverty by 2021, hitting middle-income countries the hardest and reversing gains made in reducing poverty levels over the last two decades.
Maxim Chirkov, Associate Professor at the political economy department of Lomonosov Moscow State University, is certain such forecasts are well grounded and will apply to Russia.
In his view, the pandemic severely damaged Russia’s economy and the statistics relating to the Russian labor market and the people’s wellbeing is worrying. The problem is much aggravated by the discrepancies between the official figures and the real state of the national economy. Unemployment, for instance, is twice as high as is officially recognized. Lots of employees now work half- or quarter-time with respective earnings cuts, yet they are still officially recognized fully employed.
As the expert noted, before the pandemic, no extreme poverty — with people living on $2 a day per head — was present in Russia. Due to a dramatic weakening of the national currency over the past few weeks, the extreme poverty is quite likely to appear in the country though.