Differences across age groups are partly due to variations in lived experience. As mentioned before, older generations of Russians lived in considerable isolation during the Soviet Period. Meanwhile, younger generations, who have always lived with an abundance of imported western goods and services, feel the impact of economic isolation more acutely.
Ordinary Russians who are uninterested in the fine details of economic policy draw their assessments on the state of the country’s economy from two sources: first, the situation at their place of work, and two, information received from mass media. The first source was already highlighted above. Regarding the second, it can be argued that access to independent media, which compete for consumers’ attention, shapes a respondent's views about the prospects of important substitution.
Among respondents who indicate having no access to the internet, the share of import substitution optimists is significantly higher than among those who do have access and use a VPN when browsing the internet. Among respondents who do not use the internet, the share of those confident in the ability of Russian companies to produce their own medical equipment is 68%. In contrast, among those who use a VPN the figure is 33%. Likewise, 70% of respondents who do not use the internet believe Russia’s automotive industry can be self-sufficient. Again, for VPN users, the figure is only 27%. As we see, greater access to independent sources of information is related to weaker confidence in important substitution.
Russia’s “collective consciousness” bases assumptions about import substitution not on economic reasoning, but on a political logic advanced by the government. Likewise, how respondents assess this political logic determines their views on how the economy is likely to develop moving into the future.
Therefore, we see that among respondents who believe hostilities against Ukraine should be continued, 61% are confident that import substitution in Russia’s automotive industry will be a success. While among those who favor peaceful negotiations, only 44% believe substitution will succeed. In other words,