Scientists have found the Russians and Americans had similar perception of the market and democracy


The experts of the National Bureau of economic research (NBER, one of the largest private research universities in the United States) has published the results of a comparative analysis of political and economic tastes of Americans and Russians. In fact, the document consists of several separate studies: a survey of residents of Moscow and new York Metropolitan area.

The survey was conducted in November of 2015, analysts asked respondents the same questions, and with a similar study in 1990. Thus the study compared two countries in two epochs: the Soviet Union in the last years of Perestroika and Putin’s Russia, and the United States in the period of “Reaganomics” and the liberalism of Barack Obama.

“In recent years, popular opinion attributed the lack of progress and democracy in Russia are the Russians themselves inclinations. That Russians understand the principles and advantages of a market economy but not democracy,” say the authors of the report, remembering the words of Mikhail Khodorkovsky about what President Vladimir Putin is “more liberal Democrat than 70% of our fellow citizens”.

Accordingly, the aim of the study was to prove or refute conservative beliefs of the Russians, comparing them to “developed democracies” and to the era of Perestroika.

The invisible hand

Sociologists are fundamentally not asked direct questions about market economy and democracy, but the Respondent described a situation that may demonstrate his or her behavioral preferences and inclinations. For example, how fair from flower shops raise the prices on holidays. In 1990, 66% of Muscovites considered it wrong for a quarter century, the number of dissenters is essentially the same (67%). The people of new York, by contrast, were slightly more tolerant to price jumps: the number of dissatisfied has decreased from 68% to 55%.

Much less Russians now agree with the state regulation, the study sample was taken the establishment of a price ceiling on flowers: 43% vs. 54% in 1990. In another situation, when the factory is faced with an increased demand for goods and is considering a price increase, more than half of modern Muscovites (53%) believe that the factory should not do. In Soviet Moscow for this favored by 43% of respondents.

In addition, over a quarter of a century the Americans and the Russians have changed places in their attitude to the speculators. Theoretical “increase in the price of coffee on the world market by 30%” one third of Muscovites and half of new York city residents in 1990 was attributed to the actions of speculators (other answers suggested state intervention or crop failure). Now 54% of Muscovites referred to the actions of speculators versus 33% of new Yorkers.

But the Russians showed themselves more ready for an irregular work than the Americans. Only 42% of Muscovites are not prepared to work harder provided that they receive overtime, a quarter of a century ago to process disagreed 73% of inhabitants of capital. In new York the numbers have changed slightly: 58% now and 51% a quarter century ago. As in 1990, and now only a third of Muscovites prefer the glory of a stable, successful business, among Americans same preferences were divided equally.

The problem of foreign

In addition to attitudes towards market mechanisms, the authors were interested in opinion of citizens on socio-political issues: only analysts identified seven such issues. In the summary table indicated the results of three studies since 1990 in new York, the polls are not held.

During the Perestroika period Muscovites have become less tolerant in almost all the situations except one: when you suspect of treason in jail without a court decision was ready to throw the suspect 18% of the capital of the USSR and a little less — 15% — residents of Moscow. Among the American respondents similar thoughts expressed by 19%.

The greatest support among Muscovites is a judgment that maintaining public order is more important than unlimited freedom (fraught with the destruction of the structure of society). In 1990 it was supported by 69% of Muscovites, now 76%. In new York the idea of a “strong hand” finds the support of only 36% of the residents. Has deteriorated the attitude of Muscovites to the concepts of “extremism” and “radicalism”. To deny such groups the right to hold a meeting in 1990, wanted 37% of Moscow residents, and in 2015 — already 59%. In new York such views are now shared by only 29% of respondents.

The most liberal attitude (Russians, Americans) to freedom of speech. Against free expression are now only 8% of Muscovites and 4% of new Yorkers (6% of Muscovites in 1990). Muscovites even more Americans are embracing the idea of political equality: against equality for people with different beliefs were expressed 2% and 3% of inhabitants of Moscow 25 years ago and now, respectively. In new York this is being discussed for 7% of the population.

But we are talking about political rights, not about the condemnation of society. Now 37% of Muscovites (against 22% in 1990) believe that society should not “tolerate those whose views differ from the views of the majority”. In new York this view was expressed by 29% of respondents. While the Russians began to think less about the need to protect free media: in the Soviet Union only 2% of respondents were not agreed that the press needed legislative protection from pressure by the authorities. Now in Moscow, stated that 20% of respondents (27% in new York).

In General, experts emphasize NBER: in 1990 they were able to clearly refute the myth of the “Russian unpreparedness” to a market economy and democracy. Over the past 25 years, the Russians (at least, residents of the capital) still they are Americans in the socio-economic issues, with small fluctuations in one direction or another. On the other hand, Muscovites have more conservative minds, but it, experts stress that in no way proves judgments about “fundamental anti-liberalism” the Russians.