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Grime and Punishment: Job Insecurity and Wage Arrears in the Russian Federation

Authors
Disciplines
  • Economics

Abstract

The initial years of transition in the Russian Federation have been characterised by relatively smaller falls in employment than in other reform-orientated countries of eastern Europe, despite the huge negative shock caused by the move from planned to market economy. Using information from two complementary household survey data sets, we show that for many Russian workers, the dominant form of labour market adjustment has instead been the delayed receipt of wages. Other forms of adjustment at the intensive margin have not been used much. Wage arrears are found across the private, state and budgetary sector in approximately equal proportions. There are large regional variations in the incidence of wage arrears. Workers in the metropolitan centre are significantly less affected by delayed and incomplete wage payments than workers in the provinces. There is less evidence that individual characteristics contribute much toward the incidence of wage arrears, though unobserved heterogeneity may have some role to play. As with the incidence of unemployment, however, there is evidence that the persistence of arrears is concentrated on a subset of the working population. We show that workers can only exercise the exit option of a job quit from a firm paying wages in arrears if the outside labour market is sufficiently dynamic.

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