In Russia The Money Is Mostly Where The People Aren't
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#1 May 11, 2013
Its hardly a secret that Russias economy is largely based on the export of raw materials in general and oil and natural gas in particular. Its also hardly a secret that Russian regions vary enormously in their economic strength: just the other day I wrote about the huge differentiation in average wages across the multitudinous obalsts, krais, republics, and autonomous okrugs that constitute the Russian Federation.
But simply looking at a list of Federal subjects and their average wages, while it does drive home the point that Russia has a truly extraordinary level of economic diversity, doesnt tell you all that much. Russias Federal subjects vary greatly in population. As just one particularly stark example, Moscow has a population of almost 12,000,000 while the Federal subject with the smallest population, the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, has only about 51,000 inhabitants.
Luckily Rosstat has population figures broken down to oblast level, so I was able to make a chart that looked both at a regions average wage and its population. Its not exactly shocking, but most of the high-wage areas are sparsely populated natural resource hubs. Whats even more impressive is what a complete and total outlier Moscow is: its both far more populous and far wealthier than the typical Russian region. Its a bit off topic, but this graph is a handy explanation for why Im so skeptical about the prospect of a Moscow-led opposition. By virtually any standard of measurement, from the number of foreigners and immigrants, to the density of population, to the average income of a worker, Moscow is very far removed from the average Russians experience.
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