"Russia needs years to match Western prosperity"

The Russian economy has seen record levels of growth in 2007, with investment up 20% over the year. The high growth rate surprised economists, with many predicting a fall in 2007.

Head of Economic Expert Group, Evsey Gurvich, said results were far better than expected.

“We thought capital inflow would be $US 15 billion, but have gotten twice that figure.  Direct investment has also increased – amounting to $US 45 billion,” Gruvich said.

Sergey Guriev, head of the New Economic School, says that even if current growth levels are maintained over the coming years, Russia needs years to catch up with the world's top economies.

“In 2005, Russia ,in per capita terms, was reasonably high, almost $US 1,213 per capita. And given that Russia is a big country, Russia is already one of the top eight economies,” Guriev said.

The analyst also pointed to evidence that Russia was “growing faster than other big economies”, and that the country had “a good chance to catch up with those economies.”

However, Guriev warned that even with present growth levels, the country could not expect to match Western economies in terms of living standards and incomes for some time.

“It does not mean that Russians will live better.  Because in per capita terms, Russia is still number 40. In that sense Russia still has a way to go,” Guriev said.