RFE/RL on FSU

Doug Henwood dhenwood at panix.com
Tue Aug 6 13:08:03 MDT 1996


>From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, of all places. The provenance is most
visible in the highly misleading headline.

>U.N. Program Rates Russia 'High' in Human Development Values
>By Anthony Georgieff
>From Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
>[for personal use only]
>
>Copenhagen, July 17 (RFE/RL) -- The UN Development Program
>(UNDP) says that Russia has suffered a calamitous decline in human
>development, but so far continues to rank among the nations of the
>world that are "high" in human development values such as life
>expectancy, literacy, and per capita productivity.
>  In its 1996 annual report published today in Copenhagen, the UNDP
>says Russia ranks 57th in human development among 147 nations the
>program surveyed.
>  By international standards, the Soviet Union had achieved impressive
>advances in human development, the report says. Since the
>disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia's growth and human
>development have plummeted. Deep recession and hyperinflation sharply
>increased poverty, unemployment and  income inequity. Life expectancy
>and mortality have dropped.
>  In the late 1980s, only about 10 percent of the Russians lived below the
>poverty line, set at half the average income. Since 1991, the official poverty
>line has been lowered. However, the percentage of those recognized poor has
>more than tripled.
>  From 1991 - 1994, average real wages dropped by more than a third and
>agricultural
>wages by more than half. The working poor have been hit the hardest:. In 1990
>the minimum wage was 23 percent of the average wage. In 1995, it was 6 percent.
>The report says that actual wages, as opposed to officially announced wages,
>are
>even lower in today's Russia.
>  Officially, unemployment in Russia is less than 3 percent. In
>reality, says the UNDP, about one in five workers is out of a job.
>Many unemployed, on involuntary unpaid leave, are recorded as
>employed.
>  The 1996 Human Development Report terms as "catastrophic" a decline
>in life expectancy in Russia By early 1995 the average life span of a
>Russian man was 57.3 years and of a Russian woman, 70. Comparable1990
>numbers were 64 and 74 respectively. No other industrial country has
>experienced such a decline and no other country has a 13-year gender
>gap in life expectancy, the report says.
>  The UNDP says that the Russian education system has all but
>collapsed. There has been a sharp drop in teachers' salaries and
>student enrollment.
>  The report suggest that Russia's human development decline has been
>unnecessarily steep. It concludes that Russia should seek to
>establish a more egalitarian distribution of human capital through
>greater investment in, among other things, education and health
>care.




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