Labor productivity is the economic parameter that is practically the best to characterize the level of technical development and human capital. The Total Economy Database lists various estimates of productivity for many countries. For Russia, only GDP per person employed in 1990 Geary-Khamis 1990 $ is available since 1989. For the USSR, the TED provides a virtual time series since 1960. Here, we address the question of evolution of labor productivity in Russian Federation (RF) relative to the USA. Figure 1 depicts two original curves which reveal the sadness of the current evolution of labor productivity in Russia: the slope of the Russian curve is lower than that for the USA curve. In the long rung these curve diverge. Thus:
Labor productivity in Russia will never catch up that in the USA.
Figure 2 presents a different view on these curves. The difference in labor productivity had been increasing linearly for the USSR and suffered an accelerated increase between 1990 and 2005. A few years of extremely high oil price corrected the deviation down but the current evolution is likely returning to the long term trend - the gap grows with time.
Figure 3 demonstrates that in relative terms labor productivity in Russia is still lower than it was in the USSR. It will take another ten years to get to 1/3 of the US productivity. Discouraging story.
Figure 1. The evolution of GDP per person employed in the USA and Russia.