Based on this series of focused policy questions, dummy tables should be developed that indicate how the data from the various parts of the questionnaire will be analyzed and presented. This step is critical because as the CIN observed from the extensive number of tables already presented, few if any were presented in a way that is useful for decision makers.
The CIN believes that adoption of Recommendations 1 and 2 will result in a more focused study. A direct result will be the identification of a core group of essential indicators for monitoring the ongoing effects of economic reforms in Russia. The resulting set of essential indicators will in most likelihood be sustainable within the current institutional infrastructure in Russia.
There may be longer-term goals for which a more detailed survey protocol can be justified. Again, however, they are not clear from the current survey. Therefore, the CIN suggests that the RLMS research team articulate a potentially larger set of research-policy questions that justify additional data collection procedures above and beyond the essential set of indicators identified. The CIN does not believe that more data are necessarily more policy relevant. Indeed, considerable time was spent discussing the enormous respondent burden that is inherent in the current multitiered survey. The CIN decided against identifying specific sections of the questionnaires that could be eliminated or specific questions that seemed superfluous. However, the relevance of many of the detailed questions on tangential issues was questioned. Ideally, each of the individual questions should be linked to a policy question and a specific analysis plan.
In future studies, weight and height should be measured, not self-reported. It is also important to identify where and with whom pensioners live in order to determine what kind of social support system they have (e.g., a family-based support system).
Other questions to consider are the following: Are there intrinsic issues or characteristics about the pensioners that prevent them from using these social support systems? How serious is the food shortage among pensioners, and what is the situation of their personal food stock? What are some coping strategies by which pensioners can maintain their health and diet in light of these shortages? How do pensioners supplement their income? How much international food aid has been delivered, and what are the most useful forms of food aid to pensioners?
Surveys of pensioners living in rural areas should be undertaken to determine the extent of their well-being. Contrary to the usual presumption, other data available to the CIN appear to show that pensioners in small communities tended to live alone more.