Income inequalities in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia


Income inequalities in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia: finance, rent and wealth in the age of neoliberal capitalism

Small Group Project 2022-23

The project’s main purpose is to develop an understanding of the impact of financialisation and rent extraction (rent-seeking activities or rentierism) on economic inequality. The distributional patterns and their relations to neoliberalisation in three former Soviet countries of Eurasia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia) between 2000 and 2020 will be analysed and compared. This research addresses the question whether financialisation and rentierism facilitate uneven capital accumulation, and generate conditions that increase income and wealth disparities.

The project’s central argument is that the current phase of modern capitalism – finance and rentier capitalism – has a regressive effect on income and wealth distribution, leading to increased inequality. Drawing on recent critical political economy literature (e.g. Hudson 2014; Sayer 2015; Christophers 2020; Sanghera and Satybaldieva 2021), causal mechanisms and outcomes of financialisation and rentierism will be examined in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. This framework explores how the neoliberal regime of capital accumulation has increasingly concentrated income and wealth through unequal ownership and control of commodities and resources.

The project is postdisciplinary, avoiding the usual disciplinary constraints to rigorous analysis of economic inequality. This means that the project will draw on scholars from a range of disciplines, including economics, sociology, geography, political science and ethics, to offer an understanding of causal mechanisms and explanations. The project’s epistemological and ontological underpinnings are derived from critical realism, which argues for an intensive and retroductive research strategy (Sayer 2000).

The research will lead to the identification of components of upward distribution in contemporary capitalism. As in many other parts of the world, financialisation and rentierism have institutionalised and legitimised a regressive distribution of income and wealth in the post-Soviet countries. This research will shed light on the social construction of economic inequalities.

Contacting Fellows

If you would like to contact any of our Fellows to discuss their ISRF-funded work, please contact Dr Lars Cornelissen (Academic Editor) in the first instance, at