Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Reading statistics

It's never easy to extend one set of statistics to a whole political system, but they often offer glimpses of the system. IF you can "read" the numbers.

Life in Vladimir Putin's Russia explained in 10 charts
Vladimir Putin has dominated Russian politics as its undisputed leader for almost two decades.

Over successive terms as president and prime minister he has overseen an economic boom, military expansion and the re-establishment of Russia as a major power.

Living standards for most Russians improved, and a renewed sense of stability and national pride emerged. But the price, many say, was the erosion of Russia's fledgling democracy.

How has life changed for ordinary Russians during this time?

1. Fewer people are poor

Levels of poverty may be significantly lower than before, but Russia is still above the average for many of the world's biggest economies.

2. But wage growth has stalled recently

During Mr Putin's first stint as president, wages consistently grew by over 10% annually. Since returning to office in 2012, following a period as prime minister, significant growth has proved more elusive, with a series of crises and economic sanctions…

3. More people have a car, and there are more microwaves than households

Russia's enduring love affair with the Lada continues, with Ladas accounting for 311,588 of the total 1,595,737 new cars sold in 2017…

4. Russians fell in love with Ikea

Russia got its first store in 2000, as part of a MEGA branded shopping centre in Khimki, near Moscow. It went straight into Ikea's top 10 grossing stores worldwide.

By 2015, the country was the flat pack empire's second fastest growing market…

5. And champagne...

There's some dispute over how much Russians drink.

Official figures show a drop, but not the 80% claimed by the health minister…

6. Like everywhere, the internet took off

The Russian internet has its own giants - the top site is social media platform VK (aka VKontakte) with around 90 million users compared to Facebook's 20 million, according to World Bank analysis.

Search engine Yandex occupies the second slot. Being built on Russian language and algorithms gives it a competitive advantage over Google.

7. But circuses are in decline

With more than 60 permanent venues across Russia circuses, like the Moscow State Circus, are a national institution. But they have faced strong competition from, and defections to, western rivals such as Cirque du Soleil…

8. And so are public libraries

Much like everywhere else, the humble library has declined as access to the web has exploded…

9. Russia's population is growing again

One of President Putin's big goals is to turn around the dramatic population decline which began around the time of the ending of communism in 1991…

10. And Putin is spending more than ever on the military

A strong military has always been a key part of Russia's national identity, but the Soviet Union effectively bankrupted itself in an effort to match the United States during the Cold War…

Vladimir Putin gave early intent to reverse this decline and rebuild Russia as a modern military force…

Teaching Comparative blog entries are indexed. Use the search box to look for country names or concept labels attached to each entry.

Just The Facts! 2nd edition is a concise guide to concepts, terminology, and examples that will appear on May's exam.

Just The Facts! is available. Order HERE.

Amazon's customers gave this book a 5-star rating.

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