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Books by Grigory Yavlinsky
Economics and Politics in Russia
The Center for Economic and Political Research (EPIcenter)
Nizhni Novgorod-Moscow, 1992


4.2.1. Operational System of Social Indices (OSSI)

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Choice of Priorities

To develop an operational system of social indices, these spheres and social trends which exert the decisive influence on the situation should be pinpointed. There should be no more than four or five and they should reflect developments in all districts. Special attention should be paid to negative trends directly related to the social security system, capable of provoking social conflicts in the region.

Social Marker

Social markers refer to statistical data or a system of markers which best reflect the situation in the sphere chosen for analysis. As modern statistics has limited possibilities at the current stage, existing indices should be used as markers. In the future it could be expedient to single out a special group of indices-markers and to create a related special information basis or special processing programme in computer centres.

The choice of social markers and priority spheres of operational control should have a limited period of application, and the list of markers shall be amended regularly, depending on changes in the situation. System of social markers. The system of social markers has three levels. The first level embraces initial social markers, or a complete list of statistical indices chosen for operational analysis. At the second stage social markers are aggregated within each block or one of them is chosen which most fully reflects the existing situation in a specific sphere (block). At the third and final stage, we should get a summary (integrated) marker characterising the cumulative asssessment of the situation for the region as a whole. It should be based on indices calculated at the previous stage of aggregation. As the initial level of social markers includes indices with different regularity of calculation, aggregated social markers should be elaborated within the same time structure.

Information Basis

Proceeding from the existing potential of the information basis at this stage, the key task is to mobilise all information channels operating in the region and adapt them to work in the operational regime. Official (state) statistics, above all the statistics of family budgets, prices and labour resources, will play the key role among other sources of information for a long time to come.

Sources of information can be changed with the onset of new problems.

Data from different sources should be accumulated directly in the department of employment and social protection.

Principles for the Selection of Indices

Indices as social markers should satisfy the following demands:

- reflect specific processes in the best possible way;

- be calculated by the same system for all districts in the region;

- be general in nature;

- complement each other to ensure a comprehensive description of processes;

- be relative in form (indices, ratio, etc.) to ensure the definition of trends;

- actual data should compare best with standard data.

Critical Points

The determination of critical points will play a key role in the development of OSSI. The absence of the required methods of operational information collection and processing in the current situation predetermined the determination of critical points mostly on the basis of three possible versions, or their combination:

- expert assessment;

- agreement between concerned parties, for example the regional council of trade unions, the administration and personnel;

- maintenance of the current state of affairs to keep the situation stable and prevent it from worsening.

Critical points should be determined for each of the chosen blocks or individual indices. For example, the effectiveness of measures designed to protect the people's monetary incomes against inflation may be maintained at any given stage by the correlation between the subsistence minimum and monetary incomes of different population groups. The existing percentage ratio can serve as a guideline for the next quarter and be used to calculate the level of devaluation of monetary incomes within the specified period. Critical points can only be determined accurately if the situation is fully depicted. In this sense, a number of key indices today, for example unemployment and the consumer market, can help determine critical points for the district, by taking into account the district's specifics. This calls for special technical equipment and software, but the creation of such a system will considerably increase the effectiveness and purposefulness of the local authorities.

Regularity of Information

At this stage it would be best to provide information on a weekly basis, complemented with general monthly indices. To specify key trends, we need quarterly assessments based on an analysis of family budgets.


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