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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

World Bank: Russians Poorer Than Brazilians

Russia grew slightly wealthier, beating Romania but falling just short of Brazil, according to the World Bank's new World Economic Indicators annual report.

Gross per capita income rose by $480 to $2,610 in 2003 -- the last year for which comparative statistics were available -- propelling Russia into 97th place. Last year, the country ranked 99th among 208 countries and territories, according to the report.

While per capita income rose $100 more in 2003 than it did over the previous year, the report showed that Russia still had a long way to go to catch the United States' $37,870 per capita income or even the Czech Republic's $7,150.

Speaking at a meeting of the Group of Eight industrialized nations in Washington over the weekend, Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said he was confident that Russia could close the gap on its G8 partners.

"Within the next couple of decades, Russia will outscore many countries in its GDP growth rates and will approach the G8's level of per capita GDP," Kudrin said, adding that this development depended on continued reforms, Kommersant newspaper reported Monday.

But even if incomes grow as Kudrin predicted, many Russians may be unable to enjoy their wealth for long, since, according to the World Bank, life expectancy rates continue to plummet and many acute health concerns remain.

Average life expectancy for Russians fell from 69 in 1990 to 66 in 2003, compared with 79 in wealthy European nations.

Honduras and Tajikistan, which respectively spend $60 and $6 per capita each year on healthcare, have the same life expectancy as Russia, which spent $150 per capita on healthcare in 2002, the latest year when comparable statistics were available.

Lifestyle choices could play an important role in shortening Russians' average life span.

For example, traffic accidents cause 19.4 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 11.9 per 100,000 in high-income European nations, the report said.

Sixty-four percent of the Russian male population smokes, compared with only 28 percent of British and 36 percent of Czech males, the report said.

Tuberculosis remains a persistent problem, affecting 112 out of every 100,000 Russians, while the number of HIV infections is growing rapidly, the report said.

"Denial, stigma and the institutional challenges of providing services to marginalized and vulnerable subpopulations, such as injecting drug users and persons with disabilities, jeopardize progress to combating HIV/AIDS in the [CIS] region," the bank said in an accompanying statement on its web site.

The prevalence of HIV cases among Russians between 15 and 49 years of age reached 1.1 percent in 2003, 15 times higher than in 2001, the report said.