Press release №2109


  • 39% of Russians consider that education is the key to a higher social status and success in life
  • As before, two-thirds of Russians do not think it is worth sacrificing your health and your family in order to live well-off

Education, character and goal orientation are three main components of success in Russia. Money and connections have lower importance.

MOSCOW, October 19, 2018. Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM) presents the data of a study devoted to how Russians assess their social position and how they describe the key to success.

The share of Russians who view their income as “above average” has increased (from 5% in 1991 to 10% in 2018); however, the share of those who view their social status as “high”   (3%) has remained at the same level. The percentage of those who think that their social status is “average” has also grown up (64% vs 49% in early 1990s). The ratio between the answers “below average” and “low” (13% and 7%) has also changed (19% and 14%, respectively, in 1991). 

According to Russians, education is essential to gain higher social status (39%; 50% among residents of Moscow and St Petersburg (for each)). One-third of respondents (33%) say that people can be successful in life due to certain personal qualities and capabilities (40% among the 18-24-year-olds). A further 27% consider that goal orientation helps to achieve success; most of those who think so are young respondents aged 25-34 (37%). Seventeen percent point to financial well-being; 15%, work; 14%, health. According to 12% of respondents, success can be achieved due to certain business skills; 11% believe it is family that helps to gain higher social status. Experience and belief are least important things (2% and 1%). 

Most of Russians say they are not successful in life due to lack of money (40%). Education as a tool to gain high social status is pointed by 15%; 14% lack ambitions, goal-seeking attitude and other personal characteristics. Twelve percent point to the lack of connections and acquaintances. Ten percent think they need to move to another country or city. A further 9% complain about their lack of necessary professional skills.

As in early 1990s, today a majority of respondents believe that people should not sacrifice their family and health chasing well-being (64% in 1991 vs 68% in 2018). Only one-fifth of Russians oppose them (18%). The number of those who consider that people can live with only the bare essentials and do not need to strive to be rich has not changed (9%).

The VCIOM-Sputnik survey was conducted on October 16, 2018. The survey involved 1,600 Russians aged 18 and over. The survey was telephone-based and was carried out using stratified dual-frame random sample based on a complete list of landline and mobile phone numbers operating in Russia. The data were weighted according to selection probability and social and demographic characteristics. The margin of error at a 95% confidence level does not exceed 2.5%. In addition to sampling error, minor changes in question wording and different circumstances arising during the fieldwork can introduce bias into the survey.


How would you assess your social status? (closed-ended question, one answer % of total respondents)
  1991* 2018
High 2 3
Above average 5 10
Average 49 64
Below average 19 13
Low 14 7
Don’t know 11 3

* In 1991, the survey involved urban and rural populations aged 16 and over, representative of all-Union sample; the sample size was 2,949 respondents.


In your opinion, what is necessary for a person to achieve success in life? (open-ended question, not more than 5 answers, % of total respondents)
  Total respondents
Education 39
Character, personal traits, abilities 33
Goal-seeking behavior 27
Financial well-being 17
Work 15
Health 14
Business qualities 12
Family 11
State support, power 9
Connections 7
Luck/Circumstances/Freedom 6
Social status/Stability 6
Origin 5
Experience 2
Belief 1
Other  1
Don’t know 14


As to you, what are you personally lacking to achieve success in life and to get a higher social position?  (closed-ended question not more than 3 answers, % of total respondents)
  Total respondents
Financial well-being, money 40
Education 15
Personal qualities (ambitions, goal orientation, hard-working, social skills, etc.) 14
Connections, acquaintances 12
Change of place of residence (moving to another country or a city) 10
Skills, professional retraining 9
Special social background (f.e., parents’ background)  4
Successful marriage 4
Time/age not right 3
Health 3
Certain ethnic background 1
Good laws, right government policies 1
Jobs 1
Stability in life and in the country 1
I am already successful; I achieved high social status 16
Something else 1
Don’t know 10


What is your opinion about achieving higher levels of financial well-being? (closed-ended question, one answer, % of total respondents)
  1991* 2018
I think it is important to work as much as needed for the family well-being even if it may affect health or family communications. 16 18
I think it is wise to have the level of income which is achieved without any harm to health or communications with the family 64 68
No point chasing money; one can live with the bare essentials 11 9
Other 1 2
Don’t know 8 3

* In 1991, the survey involved urban and rural populations aged 16 and over, representative of all-Union sample; the sample size was 2,949 respondents.

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