This study examines in how far adult learning can contribute to decreasing social inequalities in Russia. More specifically, we distinguish between formal adult learning at tertiary and non-tertiary level, and non-formal adult learning with and without employer support and, first, examine the participation patterns of different groups in those distinct types of adult learning in Russia in the last decade, focusing on initial educational attainment, labor market status, and gender. Second, we examine whether participation in distinct types of adult learning improves employment prospects, contributes to career progress, earnings and job prestige, and reduces labor market risks. For our analyses, we use the nationally representative household panel survey of the Russia Longitudinal Monitoring Survey (RLMS-HSE) from the years 2000-2011 and employ panel analyses techniques. Our findings suggest that it is crucial to distinguish these types of adult learning in order to understand the impact of adult learning on social inequalities by initial educational level, labor market positions, and gender. Overall, however, we find that adult learning with its current patterns of participation and returns does not contribute to lowering social inequalities, but rather leads to an upsurge. The use of different types of adult learning is stratified by initial educational level and labor market position, and mostly those already advantaged participate in those types that pay off in the labor market. In turn, participation of disadvantaged individuals is higher in exactly those types of adult learning that do not show positive returns.

Keywords: formal adult learning, non-formal adult learning, RLMS, social inequalities, life course research, Russia