Economic inequality in Russia – skewed income and wealth distribution – increased sharply in the transition from a state socialist system to a capitalist market economy. In the 2000s, despite significant economic growth and decreases in levels of poverty, income inequality has remained persistently high and has even increased. Social and spatial inequalities further exacerbate income inequality. As a result, inequality in access to healthcare, education, housing, jobs, and the law has also increased.
The Russian government started to make attempts to address high inequality in the mid-2000s, focussing on regional economic development and redistributive transfers to low-income and vulnerable regions and people. However, as this discussion paper argues, the fight against inequality in contemporary Russia is unlikely to succeed without addressing labor market challenges; realizing the redistributive potential of the tax system and public services; improving anti-discrimination legislation; and addressing the problems of corruption and an inequitable law enforcement system.