Civil service quality can’t be changed by simply increasing civil servant wages

Minister of Labor and Social Security Maksim Topilin has recently stated that civil servant wages are very low. Furthermore, regional authorities are running short of personnel.

"Statistically, civil servant wages differ fr om average wages in the industrial sector. Wages at territorial agencies, including territorial supervisory bodies, are very low, indeed", reasoned Mr. Topilin.

The Minister pointed out that the Ministry of Labor was working on measures aimed at making civil service more attractive for civil servants.

Analysis of the civil service in other countries (drawing on the example of OECD countries) reveals two civil servant remuneration schemes in general. The former is focused on social guarantees and compensation (i.e. the social package like in the United States, Germany, Japan, etc.), rather than wages, whereas the latter offers higher wages with less focus on the social package.


It should be noted that attempts to launch a state apparatus reform with a view to enhancing civil servants' motivation and performance quality and the effectiveness of the apparatus at large were made in Russia in the 2000s. It would therefore be relevant to analyze the practice of OECD countries, wh ere such reforms were launched as early as the 1980s.


Beyond all doubt, the ways of making the civil service more attractive are not reduced to financial incentives. In particular, sound division of powers of different government agencies, result-based performance measurement and advanced training of specialists play an important role here. Unless these and other measures are taken, any simple increase in civil servant wages (it is to be recalled that the draft federal budget for 2014-2016 provides for a 2.6-fold increase in federal civil servant wages by 2016) would result in unreasonable growth in federal budget revenues caused by an economically counter-productive item, rather than any qualitative changes in the civil service. To date, however, no specific information on any measures to reform the civil service in Russia has been disclosed yet.


Kazakova M. V., PhD in Economics, Head of Economic Development Department