Belarus - Poverty and wealth

For most Belarusians, independence compromised their economic and physical welfare. Environmental problems, the loss of life savings, and the continued effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster undermined the health of the population. Compared to other East European and former Soviet republic nations, the income of Belarusians lagged behind. The GDP per capita of Belarus declined from US$2,761 in 1990 to US$2,198 in 1998, while per capita GDP in Russia and Poland increased by over US$1,000 during the decade (based on the 1995 exchange rate).

Though many of the former Soviet republics and East European countries worked to change from socialist, centrally planned economies to free market economies, Belarus was not anxious to follow that route; as a consequence, the economy was left behind the other former Soviet states.

The life expectancy of Belarusians, which in the mid-1970s stood at 71.5 years, was estimated at 68.0 years in 2000. The mortality rate increased from 10.7 in 1990 to 13.0 in 1998. Men had a life expectancy of only 61.8 years, while women were expected to live 74.5 years. Approximately 22 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Belarus
Lowest 10% 5.1
Lowest 20% 11.4
Second 20% 15.2
Third 20% 18.2
Fourth 20% 21.9
Highest 20% 33.3
Highest 10% 20.0
Survey year: 1998
Note: This information refers to expenditure shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita expenditure.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All Food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Belarus 36 7 15 7 10 11 14
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Russia 28 11 16 7 15 8 16
Ukraine 34 5 16 6 4 14 22
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.
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