The Rise of Mass Poverty
By 1992, official definitions of the poverty threshold assumed that outlays on food absorbed, on the average, more than two-thirds of the income of the poor. Any attempt to compare official poverty rates before and since 1992 must come to terms with the changing criteria for defining the poverty threshold. When official Russian estimates of the poverty threshold and the extent of poverty in 1992—1993 began to emerge, it became clear that the methods and criteria used to derive these magnitudes were markedly different from those commonly used in earlier years. The findings of nonofficial studies indicated that poverty had spread to engulf a much broader group of Russians. These new studies confirmed what most Russians already knew: poverty had become a mass phenomenon. Developed by respected social scientists, these studies served as explicit or implicit criticisms of the government's method of estimating the incidence of poverty.