The recent statement of the Ministry of Health that life expectancy in Russia has boosted up to 78.5 years among women and 68.5 years among men seems to be designed for paving the way for another increase of retirement age for the Russians.
President Vladimir Putin’s assurances that all compulsory and unpopular decisions regarding the pension system have already been taken by the country's authorities, and that no new reform is planned by the federal center seem to be unconvincing for the Russians. Society remains strained. Moreover, they are bracing themselves for a new retirement-age increase in order not to be caught unawares if the decision of this kind is made eventually. Political scientists and experts believe that in the coming years, the issue of an increase in the retirement age will be raised in Russia again. According to experts, the cause for this might lie in the absence of expected economic effect from the reform launched in early 2019. In other words, predictions are made that the Russians will have difficult times. In experts’ opinion, the reform that was launched this year and presupposed a gradual increase in the retirement age of next five years is just the start of a long and unpleasant process. Valery Rashkin, a deputy of Russian parliament’s lower house representing the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, was the first one to speak out about the possible raising of retirement age in the country in the short term. According to Rashkin, PM Dmitry Medvedev's government is going to increase to 70 years. Moreover, he is confident that in this case it will be raised equally for men and women likewise. Earlier, Rashkin even said that a workgroup might be formed in the State Duma in order to scrutinize issue. In a conversation with journalists, he said he had information that this workgroup would consist of the same people, who had designed the notorious first stage of the reform. Economists believe that a number of quite obvious factors also back up Valery Rashkin's words. First of all, the current increase in the retirement age has not been as efficient in economic terms as excepted initially. “The authorities assured that the much-talked-of reform would straighten out the unbalanced budget and push the economy towards development. But in fact, it brought about an opposite effect. The reform has not saved Russia from problems, and therefore, its result is still the same – the Russian senior citizens have been deprived of an opportunity to retire at the usual age and now have to work for an extra five years,” the media quoted Rashkin. Experts say that the retirement age increase has not influenced the growth of labor force in the Russian market either. The official data has confirmed it, too. According to the latest reports of the Federal Service for Statistics, the number of officially employed Russians makes up only 51% of the total population, inclusive of working pensioners. Moreover, since the launch of the pension reform, the number of officially employed Russians has even decreased by 0.75% since early 2019. In other words, so far the reform has only had an opposite effect, compared with what was expected of it. Finally, the recent statement of the Ministry of Health that life expectancy in Russia has gone up to 78.5 years among women and 68.5 years among men looks like a yet another indirect token of an upcoming increase the retirement age increase for Russians. Vladimir Putin’s own words may sum it up. “As long as I am the President, no one will increase the retirement age in Russia," this statement was made by the head of state more than ten years ago. It has specified his position on the perspectives already frightening many residents even then. Already in 2018, Putin had to offer explanations, and one wouldn’t call them really convincing. Today, the Russian president repeats almost the same words only to reassure the people: “no more reforms are to be expected, and nothing of the kind is discussed.” However, if it happens to be untrue, the head of state will definitely find an explanation once again.