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Demographic Forces for Change


Despite the upheavals of the last decade and the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots, Russian society does not appear particularly polarized politically. Surprisingly, Russian sociologists find there has been little change in Russians basic perceptions and values since the late 1980s. The great changes in society, they say, occurred in the previous two generations, with the move to the cities and the rise of educational levels and standards of living. By the late 1980s a new Russian urban culture had formed, founded on a large professional class, largely free of ideology and potentially supportive of liberal political values. 

Be Careful When You Talk! Soviet poster
At the start of the twenty-first century, a new post-Soviet generation is rising to leading positions throughout the country. Many of its members, those in their mid-thirties today, have lived their entire professional lives in the world of the post-Soviet market economy.

They are familiar with international practices and trends, and they do not hesitate to look to the outside world for models. Increasingly, they are not engineers, but lawyers, accountants, and economists, who understand opportunity and competition and possess the marketing and financial skills needed for business.

Talk as Much as You Want! Post-Soviet Advertisement

At the ballot box, the post-Soviet generation has broadly supported the governments reforms. The problem is that many younger Russians take the changes that have taken place in their lifetimes for granted and often do not care to vote at all. However, if Russia follows the experience of other countries, younger Russians will vote in larger numbers as they grow older and establish families.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the age spectrum, the generation of pensioners who are the main constituency of the Communist Party is gradually moving off the stage. In short, demographic change is on the side of the reforms, as it brings forward the generation of people who have never experienced anything else.

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