The rise in cost of municipal services in some communities means that, despite high taxes, local funds are insufficient to cover basics. People on fixed income in these communities fear rising taxes and inflation and find themselves unable to pay for essentials like home repairs. Their houses fall into disrepair, and they themselves sink into a hidden subsistence lifestyle of marginal diet, restricted cashflow, and increasing dependency.
Although many rural families are moving towards a standard of living in which more than their simplest needs are provided for, the basis for such a development is precarious. Average family income is barely adequate for survival: garden produce is limited to what the family can use; the jobs which support most families are seasonal; since work depends heavily on fish, agriculture, hunting or trapping, income is neither steady nor predictable; if a resident leaves the community looking for work, there is no interim income for his family until his first pay cheque arrives; in comparison with nearby towns, local prices are high and goods are limited; general health is seriously hampered by the fact that families cannot afford medical or ambulance expenses; most families cannot afford telephones. The constant struggle to sustain the family is reflected in immediate purchasing and spending patterns. Short-term cash purchasing is virtually the only mode of procurement. Consumer spending is sporadic and bills tend to be paid late. Until the economic basis for the family is placed on a more solid footing, there will be little energy or income available for common development efforts.
As inflation grows in Russia it was reported that millions of Russian families would not be able to survive without two incomes. In 1992, women's earnings account for 40% of family incomes, while every fifth Russian woman is the family's only breadwinner.
Without massive income improvement it is increasingly difficult for village people to avoid falling victim to subsistence-style living. Any disaster, such as drought, totally disrupts the delicate balance of marginal subsistence and consumes essential capital resources.