Human Capital Multidisciplinary Research Center

1.1.1 Social Stratification, Poverty and Inequality

Alina Pishnyak
Project Leader

Svetlana Mareeva
Project Leader

Context of Research Project within a Subject of Human Capital

Inequality and poverty pose a global challenge to the country's sustainable socio-economic development and economic growth based on the realization of human potential as a key factor. The emergence of new forms of inequality and the risks of poverty complicates the search for an effective response to this challenge.

The research project Social Stratification, Poverty and Inequality focuses on the development of a scientific apparatus for comparing objective and subjectively perceived inequalities, as well as on the connection between social mobility (both objective and subjective) and the perception of inequalities. It proposes the development of approaches and tools for measuring inequality, including its non-monetary forms and their relation with human potential. It also implements research aimed at studying the size and structure of the middle class – the main owner of high-quality human capital.

Project Aim

Analyzing social stratification, poverty and inequality in the context of the connection with the realization of human potential

Project Objectives:

  1. Analyzing Russian poverty in the context of international comparisons, as well as the determinants of poverty, staying in and getting out of persistent poverty and also to study the potential impact of some social policy measures on the poverty level in Russia
  2. Assessing the subjective perception of inequality in Russia and identify the specifics of the connection between social mobility, perception of inequality and the demand for redistribution in various social groups, including those differing in their level of human capital
  3. Assessing the correlation between the position in the system of inequalities and the formation of human potential
  4. Identifying the main tendencies in the dynamics of the middle class, analyze the factors of the exclusion of families from it, including the analysis of risks and factors of getting poor, study the tracks of families that have dropped out of the middle class, identify the opportunities for the activation of the human potential of such families

Key Findings


The role of the middle class in society, including in the context of the topic of the human potential accumulation, has been described. The characteristics of the latest trends in terms of changing the position of the middle class in Russia and in the world have been given, the factors that destabilize the position of its representatives during the pandemic and in the periods preceding it have been shown. The conceptualization of the correlation between social mobility and the demand for redistribution as one of the key positions of the new social contract between the population and the state have been presented.


Perceptions of income inequality by the population of Russia and other countries have been obtained, as well as an empirical assessment of the relationship between various types of social mobility and the perception of inequality. The ideas of the population about poverty and its factors have been revealed. An assessment of the risks of poverty for the Russian middle class in the 2000s has been carried out, as well as the profiles of its representatives, both maintaining their position in the social structure and facing the risks of poverty. Using the micro-modeling procedures, the impact of social support measures designed to help reduce poverty and inequality has been assessed. The analysis of opportunities and limitations of the development of platform employment as a new opportunity for income growth of the population has been carried out.


Composition of the Human Potential Index based on Russian Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS-HSE) and open data of official statistics has been proposed. Working with the index showed an increase in the level of human potential from lower strata (the poor) to higher strata (the core of the middle class), and also demonstrated that impoverished representatives of the middle class, despite the low level of income, are much closer to the middle stratum in terms of human potential characteristics.


The analysis of the relationship between Russians' perceptions of inequality and their behavior in relation to expenses related to human capital has been carried out. Perception of access to higher education by the population as fair, and the causes of well-being as meritocratic, leads to an increase in the propensity to invest in adult human capital. Perception of causes of wealth as related to the peculiarities of parental family support or institutional environment which does not meet the principles of equality of opportunities, on the contrary, has a disincentive effect on investments in human capital of adult Russians. Understanding poverty as a consequence of the peculiarities of the institutional environment in the country works in a similar way.


  1. Mareeva, S., Slobodenyuk, E. Inequality in Russia Compared to Other Countries: Income, Wealth, Opportunities [Text, RU]: analytical report / Mareeva S., Slobodenyuk E.; National Research University Higher School of Economics – Moscow.: HSE, 2021. – 27
  2. Tikhonova, N. Subjective Stratification of Russian Society: State, Dynamics, Key Problems [Text, RU]: analytical report / Tikhonova, N.; under the scientific editorship of Ovcharova L.; National Research University Higher School of Economics. – Mocow.: HSE, 2021. – 35
  3. Report Platform Employment: Definition and Regulation (RU). Authors: Sinyavskaya O., Biryukova S., Aptekar A., Gorvat E., Grishchenko N., Gudkova T., Kareva D.; National Research University Higher School of Economics, Institute of Social Policy. — Moscow: HSE, 2021
  4. Mareeva S., Slobodenyuk E., Anikin V. Public Tolerance for Social Inequalities in Turbulent Russia: Reassessing the Role of Subjective Mobility // Monitoring of Public Opinion: Economic and Social Changes Journal. 2022. No. 1. Pp. 39-60
  5. Mareeva S., Slobodenyuk E., Anikin V. Russians' Perceptions of Income Inequality: Whether Social Mobility Affects Them (RU), NCMU Scientific Digest, Issue No. (4) 9. 2022
  6. Mareeva S., Slobodenyuk E., Anikin V. Support for Reducing Inequality in the New Russia: Does Social Mobility Matter? // Intersections. East European Journal of Society and Politics. 2022. No. 2. Pp. 175-196. doi


  1. XXII Yasin (April) International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development  (Moscow, Russia, April 4-22, 2021): Special session F-15-4. Inequality, Poverty and Social Policy in the Post-Soviet Space (04/15/2021): Mareeva S., Anikin V., Slobodenyuk E. Does the ‘Tunnel Effect’ Still Apply? Social Mobility and Perceptions of Inequality in the New Russia, Pishnyak A., Khalina N., Nazarbaeva E. Multidimensional poverty index: Adaptation to Russian data and poverty profiles evaluation
  2. The European Regional Science Association (ERSA) 60th Congress «Territorial Futures. Visions and scenarios for the resilient Europe» (Bolzano/Bozen, Italy, August 24-27, 2021): Burdyak A., Pishnyak A., Grishina E., Khalina N. Social structure of the population and dynamics of bank lending across Russian regions in the pandemic year 2020 (26/08/2021)
  3. Aleksanteri Conference 2021 «Eurasia and Global Migration» (Helsinki, Finland, October 27-29 2021): Mareeva S., Anikin V., Slobodenyuk E. Does the ‘Tunnel Effect’ Still Apply? Social Mobility and Perceptions of Inequality in the New Russia (28/10/2021)

St. Petersburg International Conference on Inequality and Diversity (St. Petersburg, Russia, November 11-13 2021):
Mareeva S., Slobodenyuk E. Anikin V.Does the ‘Tunnel Effect’ Still Apply? Perceptions of Inequality and Social Mobility in the New Russia (13/11/2021)

International Workshop Applied Research in the field of labor Market Economics and Human Capital (Moscow, Russia, November 12-13, 2021):
Anikin V., Mareeva S., Slobodenyuk E. Support for Reducing Inequality in the New Russia: Does Social Mobility Matter? (13/11/2021)

The Fifth International Conference of Data Users Russian Monitoring of the Economic Situation and Public Health of the HSE" (RLMS-HSE) (Moscow, Russia, May 27-28, 2021):
Pishnyak A., Khalina N., Nazarbaeva E. The Path from the Middle Class: Evaluation of the risks of poverty for Russian middle class members (28/05/2021)

XXIII Yasin (April) International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development (Moscow, Russia, April 5–22, 2022) session F-6-3. Issues of Poverty, Well-Being and Mobility (04/06/2022):
Nazarbayeva E., Goryainova A. Features of the perception of poverty by the Russian population