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Housing and Income Distribution in Russia: Zhivago's Legacy

Listed author(s):
  • Buckley, Robert M
  • Gurenko, Eugene N

The inadequacy of housing and its effect on the quality of life go a long way toward explaining many aspects of Russian life, but little data has been available to determine how housing affected the relative well-being of the citizenry. This paper presents comprehensive data examining for the first time the effect that seventy years of a socialist housing allocation scheme had on the distribution of income. It seems clear that housing provided by the government or by employers has a value that can be measured to yield useful inferences about the distribution of income and wealth. This article shows that housing allocation had a progressive effect on the distribution of income in Russia. In addition, when the imputed value of housing is added to household income, the increase in income inequality that occurred in recent years is significantly reduced. The analysis concludes with a discussion of how housing policy could be used to address poverty concerns, an important aspect of the transition process.

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Article provided by World Bank Group in its journal World Bank Research Observer.

Volume (Year): 12 (1997)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 19-32

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Handle: RePEc:oup:wbrobs:v:12:y:1997:i:1:p:19-32
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  1. Atkinson,Anthony Barnes & Micklewright,John, 1992. "Economic Transformation in Eastern Europe and the Distribution of Income," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521438827, September.
  2. Horioka, Charles Yuji, 1994. "Japan's Consumption and Saving in International Perspective," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 42(2), pages 293-316, January.
  3. Ivanov, Youri & Rjabushkin, Boris & Homenko, Tatjana, 1993. "Introduction of the SNA into the Official Statistics of the Commonwealth of Independent States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 39(3), pages 279-294, September.
  4. Kessler, Denis & Wolff, Edward N, 1991. "A Comparative Analysis of Household Wealth Patterns in France and the United States," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 37(3), pages 249-266, September.
  5. Daniel, Zsuzsa, 1985. "The effect of housing allocation on social inequality in Hungary," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 9(4), pages 391-409, December.
  6. James Alm & David L Sjoquist, 1995. "Social Services and the Fiscal Burden in Russia," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 37(4), pages 19-30, December.
  7. Prell, Mark A, 1989. "The Measurement of Housing Output: U.S. and Soviet Case Studies," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 35(3), pages 297-315, September.
  8. Alexeev, Michael, 1988. "The effect of housing allocation on social inequality: A soviet perspective," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(2), pages 228-234, June.
  9. Yates, Judith, 1994. "Imputed Rent and Income Distribution," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 40(1), pages 43-66, March.
  10. Poterba, James M, 1992. "Taxation and Housing: Old Questions, New Answers," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(2), pages 237-242, May.
  11. Kakwani, Nanak, 1995. "Income inequality, welfare, and poverty : an illustration using Ukranian data," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1411, The World Bank.
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