Middle Class Will Be Majority in Russia

By the year 2020, most Russians will be middle-class, own a car and live longer -- if the economy is successfully diversified away from natural resources, the Economic Development and Trade Ministry said.

Average salaries in the country could increase by as much as 2 1/2 times to $1,000 per month -- the current average in the Czech Republic, or half that in Britain – by 2020, while annual per capita income could reach $30,000, the ministry said in a report.

The report, carried in Vedomosti on Tuesday, was prepared after the government set 2020 as the target date to double the country's $1 trillion-per-year economy.

The ministry predicts that incomes will increase by 80 percent to 140 percent, depending on the success of the government's plans to diversify the economy into high-tech industries.

By 2020, more than 50 percent of Russians will earn the equivalent of $1,100 to $1,400 per month, according to the forecast, while the figure for those living below official poverty levels will fall from 16 percent to 6 percent.

Average salaries are now just under $400 per month, according to official statistics.

Pensions will grow fourfold and one in four Russians will be able to afford to travel abroad, compared with one in 20 now.

Among other optimistic forecasts, 60 percent Russians will be able to buy a car, compared with 11 percent now.

Life expectancy will also increase to 70 years, compared with 65.3 years now, while more than 50 percent of Russians will receive higher education.

While the ministry predicts healthy annual GDP growth of 6.6 percent over the 12-year period, it also sees fewer Russians around to enjoy it, however, as the population shrinks and ages. By 2020, the country's working population will fall by 13 million, from 90 million to 77 million, while the overall population will fall as much as 4 million, from 142 million to 138 million, the forecast said.




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