Jarko Fidrmuc (Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen):
Russian Oligarchs and Economic Inequality in Russian Regions: A Quantitative Assessment
co-authored with Lidwina Gundacker (Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen)
This article traces the rise of the so called oligarchs in post-Soviet Russia in historical as well as sociological terms and examines their relationship to income distribution in Russia. When Russia moved to market economy in the 1990s, new business elite evolved. Russia’s distinctive path into market economy on the one hand and low levels of social capital on the other hand gave rise to the oligarchs who now control large parts of the economy. The new entrepreneurial class developed a strong stand within politics and society, enabling the new entrepreneurs to shape Russia’s trajectory considerably. In light of these historical developments, this article hypothesizes that the dominant role of Russian oligarchs has had a considerable impact on income distribution. The effect oligarchs have on economic inequality in Russian regions is analyzed based on a unique regional data set on the locations of oligarchs’ businesses across the Russian regions in 2003. Results indicate significantly higher levels of income inequality in regions with a higher presence of oligarchs that cannot be explained by other regional or structural characteristics.
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