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From Soviets to Oligarchs: Inequality and Property in Russia, 1905-2016

Filip Novokmet, Thomas Piketty, Gabriel Zucman

NBER Working Paper No. 23712
Issued in August 2017
NBER Program(s):The Development Economics Program, The Economic Fluctuations and Growth Program, The Public Economics Program, The Political Economy Program

This paper combines national accounts, survey, wealth and fiscal data (including recently released tax data on high-income taxpayers) in order to provide consistent series on the accumulation and distribution of income and wealth in Russia from the Soviet period until the present day. We find that official survey-based measures vastly under-estimate the rise of inequality since 1990. According to our benchmark estimates, top income shares are now similar to (or higher than) the levels observed in the United States. We also find that inequality has increased substantially more in Russia than in China and other ex-communist countries in Eastern Europe. We relate this finding to the specific transition strategy followed in Russia. According to our benchmark estimates, the wealth held offshore by rich Russians is about three times larger than official net foreign reserves, and is comparable in magnitude to total household financial assets held in Russia.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23712

Published: Filip Novokmet & Thomas Piketty & Gabriel Zucman, 2018. "From Soviets to oligarchs: inequality and property in Russia 1905-2016," The Journal of Economic Inequality, vol 16(2), pages 189-223. citation courtesy of

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