The seventy-year-old Soviet tradition of "wages without work" soon turned into "work without wages" when the planned economy began switching to a market system in 1992. Lack of budget discipline, the breakdown of contractual obligations at all levels, and the failure of state agencies to enforce laws among businesses led to pervasive wage nonpayment to workers in both the public and private sectors. In this book Padma Desai and Todd Idson combine econometric rigor, policy analysis, and empirical evidence to analyze wage nonpayment patterns across demographic groups defined by gender, age, and education, and in various occupations, industries, and regions of Russia. They also examine wage nonpayment to Russia's military personnel, in the wider context of a disintegrating military. Focusing on the roots and scale of wage nonpayment, the book is an indispensable guide to understanding Russia's economic restructuring and of the social costs of the transition born by the general population.
Among the questions addressed are: How did Russia's factory managers decide who, among various categories of workers, would not get paid? Did wage denial push people below the poverty line? How did families survive when denied wages? Did strikes lead to reduced wage arrears? The authors describe a variety of survival strategies on the part of Russian families, including informal paid activity, the selling of family assets, home production for consumption and sale, and the receiving of cash from relatives.
About the Author
Padma Desai is Gladys and Roland Harriman Professor of Comparative Economic Systems and Director, Center for Transition Economies at Columbia University.