World

Russians’ Confidence Crumbles With Economy

by Julie Ray and Neli Esipova

Majorities forecast higher unemployment, worse standards of living

This is the first article in a series examining the effects the global economic crisis has had in Russia. This article looks at Russians' views of how the crisis has affected their nation.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Russian President Dmitry Medvedev admitted earlier this week that the global financial crisis had hit the country harder than anyone had expected and the economy had "sunk below our lowest expectations." Gallup surveys before and after the crisis hit last year show Russian consumer confidence sank with their economy: The percentage of Russians saying the economy is getting better plunged from a pre-downturn high of 46% to a record-low 11%.

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Many experts believed Russia's vast currency reserves and budget surplus would spare its economy from the worst of the global recession. But crashing commodity prices late last year helped reverse the country's economic fortunes, and Russia plunged into recession for the first time in nearly a decade. Medvedev said on Russian television Sunday that the "real damage" to the country's economy was "far greater than anything predicted by ourselves, the World Bank, and other expert organizations." The government expects to see gross domestic product decline by about 7.5% this year, Medvedev said, more than double the previous forecasts of 3% to 3.5%.

Despite the declining confidence and output, Russians do not think they are necessarily faring worse -- or better -- in the global economic climate than other countries. Nearly half of Russians (48%) surveyed from April to June say the crisis affected Russia as much as it did other countries, while one-quarter (25%) say it hit their country less, and 16% say it hit their country more.

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Although the jobless rate is now starting to fall in Russia, according to the Federal Statistics Service, Medvedev has said the growth in joblessness since the crisis has been far greater than the government expected and is one of the country's biggest problems. Russians themselves see unemployment as one of the more likely consequences of the global economic crisis. When asked about the potential effects of the crisis on their country, Russians are most likely to say their country might have to face higher unemployment (79%). Majorities of Russians also anticipate their country will likely face worsened standards of living (70%), inflation (65%), and declines in production (56%).

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Bottom Line

While Russia's economy is showing some signs of recovery, the government forecasts it will return to growth in 2010. Gallup data suggest that an important first step will be to restore the public's confidence in their nation's economy and to continue to aggressively tackle unemployment and inflation.

For complete data sets or custom research from the more than 150 countries Gallup continually surveys, please contact worldpollpartners@gallup.com or call 202.715.3030.

Survey Methods

Results are based on face-to-face interviews with 2,042 adults, aged 15 and older, conducted April-June 2009 in Russia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±2.8 percentage points. The margin of error reflects the influence of data weighting. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

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