Author | Editor: Kuznar, E. (NSI, Inc.)
Three datasets on wealth and status distribution in Russia were analyzed: 2015 World Bank quintile and decile estimates of income, and income by occupation statistics gathered by the Russia’s Federal State Statistics Service for years 2005 and 2016.
Russia’s population was found to be risk acceptant across all three datasets that were analyzed. Even though Russia suffers from both internal and external threats as well as a large income gap, its Arrow- Pratt score is higher than the median for all countries.
Significance for Risk Taking and Stability
Russia suffers from internal instability, high amounts of corruption, a large wage gap, and right-wing violence from nationalistic or white-supremacy organizations (Walker, 2017; Due Enstad, 2017). The threat of terrorism emanating from returning Islamic State fighters adds to Russian national security concerns as well (Berman, 2017). These factors combined with the risk acceptance of Russia’s population, create the potential for future, increased instability.
Implications for US Interests
The US and Russia have some overlapping interests, such as maintaining a stable world economy and counter terrorism (Smith & Twardowski, 2017). However, Russia’s aggressive, expansionist and revisionist policies toward the US and the Western worldview, is a major source of conflict (Graham & Blackwill, 2011). The relative lack of an economic relationship and the confrontational political past between Russia and the US weakens US economic interests. Russia’s risk acceptant population gives the US an opportunity to advance its interest of seeing Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s central government undermined from within.
Implications for China’s Interests
China’s relationship with Russia is that of a cooperative partner (Dobbins, Shatz, & Wyne, 2019). Over the last decade China and Russia have accelerated their relationship to include increased economic cooperation, joint military exercises, and the backing of anti-US allies in regional conflicts. The risk acceptant nature of Russia’s populace poses an indirect threat to China and its interests, as a large civil upheaval would likely weaken its largest global political ally. However, it is unlikely that any new regime in Russia would be pro-US as 74% of the Russian population has an unfavorable view of the US (Poushter, 2018).
Implications for Russia’s Interests
Russia’s interests revolve around revising the global geopolitical landscape, earning Russia the international respect of a great power, and fostering unity among its population (Gurganus, 2018). Its population suffers from high wealth inequality, which exacerbates racial and ethnic fissures that often turn violent (Novokmet, Piketty; Zucman, 2017). The violence that Russia suffers from right-wing nationalistic groups is a constant threat to national security. Russian President Vladimir Putin follows his predecessors’ views of aggressive Russian advancement and nationalistic policies as the best way to protect both Russia’s sovereign borders and its national interests1 (Gurganus, 2018).