Catching up with the West is Possible, if Russia Reduces 85% of Its Population - 13 March, 2003

Only five percent of the economically active population is referred to the category of high qualification specialists

Wonderful suppositions of Russia’s opportunity to jump into the post-industrial stage of development get shattered when it comes to real life. The Russian Ministry for Labor and Social Development warns of a considerable decrease of Russian people’s qualification level in the country. Pursuant to the information of the ministry, only five percent of the economically active population of Russia can be categorized as high qualification specialists. This index makes up 56% in Germany, and 43% - in the United States of America. The situation on the Russian labor market is characterized with the excessive level of employment. The Gross Domestic Product dropped by 42.5% in Russia during the period of 1990-1998, while  the number of employed people reduced by only fifteen percent. This information testifies to the considerable reduction of industrial output in the country.

One may have an objection that the huge number of people from the production field moved to the field of services and business. This is considered to be an indication of the post-industrial stage of the country’s development. On the other hand, what did those people start doing? Which kind of services did they start rendering and what businesses did they run exactly? The majority of them started dealing with trading or mediation businesses. This is the economic sector, where the majority of people moved over to. They can hardly be found amid scientists, programmers, microbiologists, hightech specialists. These branches suffer from a very serious lack of personnel.

Qualification goes down, while demand goes up. The roots of the process can be traced back in the USSR era, during the prosperity of the idle cult amid Soviet people. That was the time, when the revolution of consumer demand was launched, although there was no labor contribution added to that. These sentiments were grounded ideologically in the 1990s, they achieved the peak of their development. The society has a false conception of the fact that some chemists with messy hair, sweaty programmers and underground hackers can make the country prosper. As far as the West is concerned, one should bear that in mind that its post-industrial organization is possible only owing to the existence of the rest of the industrial and pre-industrial world, where they take raw materials and power from, where they move their production to, where there are tons of cheap labor force that is a lot cheaper than it is in Russia, by the way. In addition to that, production costs are a lot lower there against the ones that can be noticeable in Russia. The post-industrial West rules the world de facto, getting a lot of money for that, like any boss does. This is the undeniable success of the Western civilization. Russia does not have such an opportunity; nothing like that is going to occur in the nearest future either. Needless to mention that Russia is not going to experience the breakthrough in the post-industrial epoch, leaving all the devastation behind.

To be more precise, such a great advance is theoretically possible only in one case – if the population of the country decreases to the level of five percent of highly qualified people, plus those, who extract, process, and transport export goods , as well as those, who control and administer them. Fifteen percent of the population is very unlikely here. All the rest will have to go.

The Russian leadership is actively looking for a way out of the situation, realizing, that there are several very serious, almost unsolvable problems. Russian authorities try to alienate themselves from the failures of the past. Authorities try to be very optimistic about it, alluding to the fact that they know a way out. They offer an absolutely splendid way out – to leap from bursting water pipes and freezing apartments to the world of high technologies and space communications. They say that there are certain prerequisites for that, allegedly. One shall assume that Russia will quickly learn how to make fuel of water, or how to build houses in a couple of days. Myths are usually dispelled, though.

Sergey Mikheyev


Translated by Dmitry Sudakov

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Author`s name Olga Savka