Policy Memos

The Coming Unemployment Crisis in Russia

Policy Memo:


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There can be little doubt that open unemployment in the Russian Federation is going to rise dramatically over the next few years. Currently, approximately 10% of the Russian population is out of work--a figure about triple the rate in 1992 at the outset of Yeltsin's market reforms, and comparable to unemployment rates in Western European countries such as France and Germany that are experiencing considerable social unrest about the problem. However, even this serious rate of unemployment in Russia could easily double, given the continuing need for extensive layoffs to increase Russia's productive efficiency in both industry and agriculture. Proposed substantial cuts in the military, while welcome in most respects, will add to this problem. Yet few analysts seem aware of the potentially dramatic effects that the predictable increase in joblessness might have on Russian domestic politics, Russian foreign policy, and the US-Russian relationship. Thinking through some of these effects in advance may help Western policymakers to avoid some rather unpleasant political shocks. [...]

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About the author

Vice Provost for International Affairs; Director of the Reves Center for International Studies
College of William & Mary