Presenting Academic Achievements: XVI April International Academic Conference

XVI April International Academic Conference on Economic and Social Development  is a signature academic event for Higher School of Economics, and always attracts many participants from Russia and abroad. More than 2000 participants – international and domestic scholars, PhD and graduate students, NGO and think tanks members - registered for the April Conference this year, and attended its sessions during the four days of April 7-10. The HSE Look covers the major presentations from the plenary session.


The opening of the XVI April Conference was held in the World Trade Center in Moscow on April 7th. The morning was devoted to the session on economic growth in Russia and global trends. HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov and HSE President Alexander Shokhin were moderators of the session.

Vladimir Mau, Rector of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA), spoke about the convergence of three different economic crises, and the difficulty of making policy decisions to tackle them, because the measures needed to overcome one type of crisis might worsen another one. He emphasized the importance of disinflation measures, the need to set budget priorities and make effective investments into social and transport infrastructure. Prof. Mau also talked about different approaches to import substitution:  choosing different import sources in the nearby region, choosing sources in farther regions, substituting imported goods with local goods of inferior quality and, finally, substituting imported products for locally produced ones which can be competitive on the local and international market. He reminded that while there have been measures to reshape the relations between import and export in Russian economy, across the world all major exporters of goods and services, rather than resources, also have a large share of import.

Evgeny Yasin, HSE Academic Supervisor, talked about the new stage of Russia’s economic development and key conditions for economic growth. He reminded the audience that despite a long history, currently Russia is a young state which underwent a significant change of social, political and economic systems less than thirty years ago. One of the challenges Russia faces is to increase the effectiveness of work and production, especially in the view of the population decline. Prof. Yasin stressed that overcoming current crises, especially the investment crisis, requires not only economic solutions but also institutional changes, such as ensuring the supremacy of the rule of law.

Herman Gref, Chairman of Sberbank’s Executive Board, drew attention to the importance of lifelong learning and investments into the human capital as well as the need to improve the quality of education on all levels: pre-school, elementary and secondary schooling, higher education, and corporate training. Commenting on H. Gref’s presentation, HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov noted that higher education in Russia is, formally, widely accessible, but often its quality is quite low, and surveys of business, families and students show dissatisfaction with the resulting quality.

Ana Revenga, Senior Director of the Poverty Global Practice at the World Bank, told about Russia’s achievements in reducing poverty and the challenges it faces. One of the indicators the World Bank monitors is not simply economic growth, but its inclusivity and the upward economic mobility it generates. A. Revenga showed that Russia outperformed other BRIC countries in middle class growth, but after the 2000s the poverty reduction tempo stagnated, and the levels of economic vulnerability remain high. Also, aggregate data do not capture the vast differences in living standards and income across Russian regions – many of the Eastern regions, except for the ones rich in gas and oil, show quite high levels of poverty and economic vulnerability.  One of the challenges Russia faces is to stimulate new drivers of economic upward mobility: a rebalancing in favor of small- and medium-sized private enterprises could be advised. Another is the need to improve the quality of public services, especially to ensure that it is equal across the regions   

Aleksey Gordeev, Governor of Voronezhskaya oblast, shared the experience of introducing key performance indicators into the evaluation of public officials’ work in the region, and engaging regional business community and civil society into the evaluation process.

Alexey Simanovsky,  First Deputy Governor of the Bank of Russia, told about the risks and challenges for the banking sector in Russia.

After all the speakers Igor Shuvalov, First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, highlighted the points which seemed most interesting and pressing to him: the quality of education and public service, and the importance of poverty reduction and middle class growth. 

The full text of the issue can be found in The HSE LooK 4 (21), April 2015.  If you are not on our regular mailing list yet, please  subscribe  and get fresh issues of our bulletin every month!