Although it made considerable progress toward this goal, in reality, it was never fully achieved. Moreover, Iarmarki (wholesale trade shows and exhibitions) have been greatly increased in number and importance. Since 1953, over 1,500 stores have been converted to self-service in the Russian Republic alone. Get this from a library! However, it did have a free health and education as well as cheap and frequent public transport and heavily subsidised gas and electric bills. From the point of view of the Soviet citizen, conditions are much better. [viii] The past sales figures for 1950 to 1959 are found in Sovetskaia Torgovlia (Soviet Trade), Gosstatizdat, Moscow, 1958, p. 57, Sovetskaia Torgovlia, January 1959, p. 12 and Pravda, January 22, 1960. Yet all the discussions having to do with foods and soft goods tend to be polemical in nature. the Soviet Union faced and the responses it devised. While there may be many reasons for it, including the desire to improve the way of life of the Soviet consumer, increased sales volume was probably the most important cause. For refrigerators, the original Seven Year Plan goals for 1965 as well as the revised goals are lower than 1959 U.S. sales. Many more comparisons are necessary (and not just of material goods) before one can make a final judgment. A similar disparity will continue to exist far beyond 1965 between other stocks of Soviet and American consumer durables. This also means that comparative studies of relative standards of living, both with other countries and between different periods, are even more difficult than has already been suggested by various researchers. Please enable JavaScript for this site to function properly. The Soviet production of wool fabric in 1958 already exceeded American production; and by 1965 it is slated to be double the 1958 American output. Production must be sustained over a long enough period of time to allow the acquisition of these items by the average citizen. Clearly, the Soviets have made vast improvements, at least over the dreadful days of the early 1930s. The second development was the emergence in the Soviet Union of certain phenomena which usually indicate overproduction and lack of planning--traditionally stigmatized as distasteful features of capitalism. It must be remembered that the standard of living is not only a matter of production. ©2020 Council on Foreign Relations, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 8, 1959, p. 55. These data are supplemented by a study of trends in adult heights by year of birth which provides a window on living conditions in the early childhood years of each cohort. Moreover, Khrushchev's recent visit to the United States and the descriptive and visual coverage of the sights he saw--supermarkets, private homes, superhighways and farm houses with swimming pools--should only increase the Russian hunger for consumer goods. However, aside from the low wages paid to most Soviet workers, Soviet working conditions leave much to be desired according to even Soviet sources. The standard of living in the Soviet Union was below the average of the USA at the same time. Anna’s account is not a detached political analysis of the situation in the former Soviet Union but rather a story of her personal experiences, which illustrate the deep contradictions that marked the society and the everyday lives of the people. Instead of the usual annual increase, sales may actually fall off. The immediate improvements in the standard of living were also important. This is to be expected regardless of any decision about total disarmament. In October 1959, less than a year after the announcement of the Seven Year Plan goals, the Soviet Government called for a sharply increased expansion in the production of consumer goods. The First Deputy Minister of Trade of the R.S.F.S.R., D. D. Korolev, during a visit to Boston recently, stated, "A few years ago we discovered that we had produced too many radios and cameras. Does this mean the Russian consumer was worse off in 1958 than in 1953? It publishes over 2,500 books a year for distribution in more than 200 countries. Living Conditions, Lifestyles and Health in the Former Soviet Union: Haerpfer, Christian, Wallace, Claire: Amazon.com.au: Books Become a subscriber for unrestricted access. 15% of the population lived in areas with pollution 10x normal levels. But in the 1950s Soviet women won free and legal terminations — achieving the right to choose before almost all of their sisters in the West. Previously prepared airfields in the Soviet Union during the war provided the best accommodations. The issue of August 16, 1959, p. 4, outlines the procedure for installment sales. The relevant comparisons for refrigerators is a maximum of 10,000,000 units by 1965 compared with 49,600,000 in the United States in 1959. All Rights Reserved. For terms and use, please refer to our Terms and Conditions As was pointed out earlier, the Russians now produce more of these than we do in the United States. The Russians are much further behind with respect to housing and automobile production. The contrasts in living standards, of which the Russian is becoming increasingly aware, have had a considerable demonstration effect. option. The American exhibition also was an especially effective method of conveying a picture of a country with a much higher standard of living. Teaching and learning in Soviet schools is planned with the intention of inculcating responsibility to the collective. When consumers could not find While it is clear that conditions improved from Malenkov on, the immediate increase in retail sales seems to suggest that consumer goods were used as a political tool--presumably to preserve stability. The reforms and concessions granted immediately after Stalin's death are well known. [vii] For example, the original plan called for an annual increase in washing-machine sales of 26 percent and the revised plan calls for 38 percent. across the Soviet Union from the 1920s to the early 1990s. If sales increased at the originally expected rates, the figure would be 25 percent instead of 35 percent. However, a personal visit into any Soviet apartment off the main street or a drive through any Russian village will answer the question whether the Russians will overtake the United States during the next few seven year plans. On special occasions such as celebrations, all the members of the compound would gather in one room and have a big feast. Consumption of potatoes per capita has fallen in Russia; it was lower in 1958 than in 1957, and both these were lower than the 1953 figure. Not only has there been increased emphasis on billboards and truck-side advertising, but radio and TV commercials are being used. The latter phenomenon gave rise to two new developments. Life in the USSR was bad. There has always been a strong ideological distaste for the participation of non-producing and non-consuming agencies in the flow of goods from producer to consumer; yet wholesalers of each commodity line now hold at least two shows a year for the traditional purpose of matching buyers and sellers. The 1961 goals seem to be exaggerated, especially since they are to be achieved in such a short period. Not only has the power to make major decisions been transferred to local planning units, but the operating enterprises themselves have been given increased discretion over their own operations. Food stores in … 2, 1959, p. 63, Electrical Merchandising Week, January 18, 1960, p. 35, and Pravda, January 22, 1960, p. 3. The decision to adopt such measures must certainly have caused quite a disturbance among some Communist leaders, both above and below ground.[v]. Due to demographic growth and normal housing depreciation, it is necessary to run just in order not to lose ground. Regardless of the sudden growth in production and sales, the stock of Soviet washing-machines will equal only 16,000,000 by 1965 at best. For refrigerators, the respective figures were 22 to 30 percent and for television sets 19 and 25 percent. The Journal of Economic History Many qualitative differences also exist. In large cities, a customer in a food store could buy canned cod liver and smoked sausage, and that would be possible on a good day. The resulting innovations may be divided into two categories: those introduced to improve the efficiency of the existing trade network; and those used to cope with the phenomenon of "overproduction," an unusual planning problem for a Communist state. New estimates of the growth in total and per capita consumption are developed for the Soviet Union during the first three Five-Year Plans. Living conditions were less comfortable in many ways, with less housing space per person, no central heating, no air conditioning, and often no sewer connections or hot water. On July 1, 1959, the prices of almost all the expensive models of these commodities were reduced 15-30 percent. These data paint a picture of a society far behind other However, the most informed guess is that American living area per capita in 1950 was approximately 269 square feet, or more than double the eventual Soviet goal. Because the estimate of Soviet stocks fails to take into consideration replacement of scrappage (important, considering the notoriously poor quality of Russian consumer goods), the comparisons tend to overstate the availability of Soviet durable consumer goods while the corresponding American figures are understated. "Today our task is to tip the scales in world production in favor of the Socialist system against the capitalistic system, to surpass the most advanced capitalist countries in labor productivity and output per head of population, and to attain the world's highest living standards. [iv] Tsentral'noe Statisticheskoe Upravlenie, Narodnoe Khoziaistvo SSSR v 1958, Gosstatizdat, Moscow, 1959, p. 704, indicates that radio, watch and bicycle sales in 1958 were lower than in 1957 and/or 1956. Although the volume of trade turnover has shown an impressive increase, the trade network itself has been enlarged at a much slower rate. Yet retail sales in 1960 are to increase by only 6.9 percent over 1959. [iii] For a more detailed discussion of these as well as the preceding category of changes, see the author's "Marketing--A Lesson for Marx," Harvard Business Review, January-February 1960, p. 79. Careers & Internships. By the time Stalin died in March 1953, the wartime destruction of a large portion of Soviet manufacturing facilities had been repaired and the level of Soviet industrial production was above its prewar level. Statistically, through the Five Year Plans the Soviet Union achieved impressive rates of economic growth during the 1930s - a decade of depression in the capitalist states. There was no place for homelessness in the land of widespread social equality - which is how propaganda presented the Soviet Union to the world. A national mail order firm sends goods to provincial areas, thus reducing the need for retail outlets. Quantitative measurements are not the only criteria to be considered. Yet another way to improve one's living conditions, though not by a lot, was the "exchange": you could exchange your housing with other people. It is with regard to consumer durables, however--on which Americans especially pride themselves--that the test must be made. Soviet production and consumption of soft goods other than foods have similarly improved in the post-Stalin years and are to continue to grow under the Seven Year Plan. Subsequently it was announced that they would be sold on an installment basis, with interest charged on the unpaid balance. Because many own more than one, the actual American stock of goods is much higher. It seems fair to say that this sudden acceleration in goals is the fruit of the psychological seeds mentioned above, the most fertile of them undoubtedly being Khrushchev's visit to the United States. Moreover, there seems to have been an even greater improvement in rural trade. Yet Western commentators must be very cautious. It may be assumed, however, that if the Russians succeed in meeting the 1961 goals, the 12 percent growth rate will continue into 1965, at least as an upper limit. Subscribe for articles, app access, audio, our subscriber-only newsletter, & more. Request Permissions. Although we are concerned with the consumption sector, we run into many of the problems encountered by those who measure stocks and flows in the capital goods industry. [Alastair McAuley] These apartments were taken up by the state and turned into communal homes– with each bedroom reserved for a single family. [viii] For 1959-65, two possible estimates are offered. The Journal of Economic History is devoted to the multidisciplinary study of history and economics, and is of interest not only to economic historians but to social and demographic historians, as well as economists in general. What the State Department Gets Wrong About Beijing, And It Requires Cooperating With Regional Powers, The U.S. Military Needs a Plan to Compete Without the Advantages of the Past, Get in-depth analysis delivered right to your inbox, From the Despite the imprivements, living conditions were poor. In no sense does this mean that Soviet stores are now filled with overstocked counters and shelves of goods. Whereas by 1958 the absolute volume of trade had increased by somewhat less than 170 percent over that of 1940, the number of retail and restaurant outlets had increased by only 30 percent. Thus automobile production is to expand from the 124,500 units produced in 1959 to 200,000 units in 1965, but the Government does not exhort the Russian worker to overtake the U.S. 1959 production of 5,590,000. Nemchinov, the Soviet economist mentioned earlier, says that the Soviet goal of 129 square feet per person will not be achieved until much after 1965. First, it means that actual living conditions prior to Stalin's death were even lower than the simple retail sales data suggest, because so large a portion of consumption expenditures were completely consumed in the same year. [ii] Although this is one way of holding down costs of distribution, the quality of service suffered. The questions to be considered now are the crucial ones--how fast will the Soviet Union grow, and will it overtake the standard of living enjoyed in the United States? Even though housing construction in the Seven Year Plan is to be 2.3 times greater than it was in the preceding seven years, a noted economist, V. Nemchinov, asserts that 55 percent of the housing to be completed under the plan will be needed just to maintain the present low housing standards. The standard of living will doubtless continue to improve in the Soviet Union. [i] Janet Chapman, "Real Wages in the Soviet Union, 1928-52," Review of Economics and Statistics, May 1954, p. 147. Foreign Affairs, Published by the Council on Foreign Relations. At the present time, almost all Soviet models are the wringer type with only a limited washing capacity. None the less, in some localities the sale of certain high-priced commodities is below expectations and accordingly the inventories are too high. While they should have done much more, and done it sooner, the fact remains that they are on the verge of overtaking the United States in both the production and consumption of certain food and soft items. A close inspection of the sales data by quarterly and semiannual increases indicates the rapidity of the change. © 1998 Economic History Association Moreover, Khrushchev apparently supposes that the great production increases are to be gained from increased efficiency and productivity and with little new capital investment. 5, 1959, p. 91, and the revised figures are derived from Pravda, October 16, 1959. Considering the levels of agricultural production during the collectivization famine of the 1930s, this is quite an accomplishment. Clearly the living standard of the Soviet consumer is rapidly improving. As long as the consumer is kept at a low consumption level, and is given more money than goods to buy with it, there is no difficulty. It should of course be understood that these "progressive" measures are often altered to meet Soviet conditions and do not always evolve in the operational form familiar in the United States. The Soviet working class was, according to Marxist–Leninist theory, supposed to be the Soviet Union's ruling class during its transition from the socialist stage of development to full communism.However, it's commonly argued [by whom?] To compare living standards is an extremely difficult statistical problem. If anything, the estimates are purposely high. Similarly, vending machines dispensing everything from beer to eau de cologne have appeared throughout the country. Living Conditions, Lifestyles and Health in the Former Soviet Union by Christian Haerpfer, 9780415679442, available at Book Depository with free delivery worldwide. Finally, centralized planning of distribution and retail trade is yielding more and more to decentralized planning. Poverty, far from being eradicated, is rampant. The Russians have found that new apartments create a need for new furniture, new suits create a need for new shoes. At the opening of the American Fair in Moscow, Khrushchev asserted that "after the fulfillment of the Seven Year Plan, we will need five years, maybe less, to overtake the United States in total and per capita production." And is it possible to compare Soviet housing with that in the United States? The USSR had the highest physician-patient ratio in the world, triple the UK rate, but many medical school graduates could not perform basic tasks like reading an electrocardiogram. Taking the maximum variant, we find that by 1965, production and sale of 4,750,000 Russian washing-machines will surpass 1959 American sales of 4,010,000. The estimates presented here are based on new information and on alternative approaches to valuation and index number problems. [i] It was necessary to recover not only from World War II but also from the trauma of the five year plans and collectivization. sales.). But the disparity between the simple two-wheel horse cart of the typical peasant and the supersonic Tupoliev jetliner of the transcontinental passenger is immense. The Soviets have found that the consumer is fickle and that demand cannot be precisely estimated and planned, as they had always assumed. As might be expected, sales of Soviet consumer durables are to increase at more than the average rate of growth. Whatever is produced is sold. To some extent this is gleaned from the magazine Amerika, and from the large number of foreign tourists in Russia. Our emphasis is on private homes while in the Soviet Union it is on semi-private apartments with jointly shared kitchens and toilets. While it is necessary to consider what is newly consumed this year, it is also important that some account be taken of what was purchased in previous years, but which still is in use and continues to satisfy and serve. At best, sales of Soviet refrigerators in 1965 will be three-fifths of U.S. sales in 1959, or a little over two million units. THIS DOCII0IG' T 6083`u'71FIEi5IHPOl461AT1O19 APPECTIWBTBL RATtO[141. There is a further element to be considered. [vii] The following statistics are derived from Planovoe Khoziastvo, No. By past Soviet standards, the goals as originally announced were somewhat modest in scope. In sharp contrast to the West, the Soviet consumer had basically no influence. What was regarded as heresy no more than two years ago is now considered an important marketing tool. With a personal account, you can read up to 100 articles each month for free. Scopri Living Conditions, Lifestyles and Health in the Former Soviet Union di Haerpfer, Christian, Wallace, Claire: spedizione gratuita per i clienti Prime e per ordini a partire da 29€ spediti da Amazon. An approximate indication of the difference in Soviet and American housing conditions is suggested by the fact that in 1957, each Soviet urban resident had 83 square feet of living space. Physical Education in the Soviet Union is presented through radio, television, books, newspapers, magazines, movies, songs, celebrations, and the arts - opera, ballet, sculpture, paintings. These estimates show that consumption per head rose … Thus as a larger and larger share of annual total expenditure is devoted to durable commodities, the standard of living is improved not only in the given year, but in the years of the immediate future. In the continually neglected areas of domestic trade and the standard of living, however, it is estimated that by 1952 real wage income, although slightly higher than prewar, was still below that which existed in 1928, the year before collectivization. [v] Sovetskaia Rossiia, July 1, 1959, p. 4, describes the price reductions. The original 1965 figures are given in Vestnik Statistiki, no. Let us assume that the Russians attain their goals, that they do reach or surpass the production levels of various American consumer goods. and modern washing machines were amazingly rare in the Soviet Union. Select the purchase Instructions for Contributors at Cambridge Journals Online. Learn more about Careers Opportunities at CIA. To sum up, there clearly have been major innovations in Soviet marketing since 1953. There is no reason to believe that this increased availability of consumer goods has not served to whet Soviet appetites for even more. While the number is in no sense comparable to the number of foreigners visiting the Soviet Union, a strong impact is none the less made. Life expectancy actually fell in the Soviet Union during the 1960s and 1970s. This background warrants a certain amount of skepticism toward planned increases in the immediate future. (MATTHEWS) According to Soviet ideology, the socialist economic system should put an end to the alienation of labor and poor workin g conditions. In this stage of the competition, the Soviet Union intends to surpass the United States economically."--N. What does all of this imply for the United States? Soviet managers were rewarded for meeting the plan, but for pleasing consumers. The communal apartment was the only living accommodation in the Soviet Union where the residents had “no particular reason to be living together.” Other forms of communal living were based around type of work or other commonalities, but the communal apartment residents were placed together at random, as a result of the distribution of scarce living space by a governing body. We face both dilemmas when we discuss Russian woolen fabrics. Yet considering that sales of washing-machines and refrigerators in the Soviet Union totalled 3,600 and 50,000 in 1953 and 670,000 and 415,000 in 1959, this is a significant improvement (despite the fact that, at best, only washing-machines will exceed 1959 U.S. Khrushchev may be entirely correct when he asserts that the American system of individual automobile ownership and the resultant traffic problem demonstrate an irrational use of economic resources. How is one to describe in statistical language the relative standards of living when one of the countries has a large stock of consumer durables and the other does not? Instead he dared to suggest that a more important challenge to Soviet industry would be to produce a pair of shoes that would wear as long as those made in the West. Overall, in terms of Russia’s urban transition, the Soviet system achieved a high rate of urbanization, which supported industrialisation, and ought to have supported continued economic growth. Taste and variations in quality come into the equation too. None the less, if precise comparative considerations of such stock variables as housing and automobiles were possible, they would only work to our advantage. The existence of homelessness … Cambridge Journals publishes over 250 peer-reviewed academic journals across a wide range of subject areas, in print and online. If anything, the 6.9 percent rate of growth just meets the original Seven Year Plan goals of a 7 percent annual increase. This occurs primarily with the more expensive varieties of such goods as watches, bicycles, television sets, radios and cameras. Moreover, they have been advertised and promoted widely. Unlike the soldiers in the field, however, air force personnel experience better conditions, to a certain degree, especially when defending their homeland from foreign invaders. Nemchinov, the Soviet economist mentioned earlier, says that the Soviet goal of 129 square feet per person will not be achieved until much after 1965. Retail trade increased in the second quarter of 1953 by 23 percent, and by 26 percent in the second half of the year. To access this article, please, Access everything in the JPASS collection, Download up to 10 article PDFs to save and keep, Download up to 120 article PDFs to save and keep. Many of these prisoners were considered by the Soviet state to be mentally unfit and were hospitalized in mental asylums across the Soviet Union. Similar considerations hinder comparison of durable consumer goods. [vi] Joint Economic Committee of the United States, Comparisons of the United States and Soviet Economies, Washington, G.P.O., 1959, 1, p. 222. As many as … Click here to learn more. On December 26, 1959, Khrushchev announced that per capita production of butter and total production of milk exceeded that in the United States. Russian delegations for the first time are being allowed to visit Western or Eastern European countries. They have also discovered, however, that in trying to overtake the United States in the pleasures and joys it derives from a high annual sales rate, they also encounter many of our problems. Topics covered include money and banking, trade, manufacturing, technology, transportation, industrial organisation, labour, agriculture, servitude, demography, education, economic growth, and the role of government and regulation. Increases indicates the rapidity of the first quarter of 1953, book.! 1956 statistical Handbook: a Commentary, Michigan state Press, East Lansing, 1957, p. 178 radios! Coverage, in reality, it will be considered the country to the early 1930s conditions much... Union ) National Union of Seamen on the unpaid balance peer-reviewed academic Journals a... A big feast sales in 1960 are to increase by only 6.9 percent over 1959 probable that were... Relations, Inc. all Rights reserved this goal, in some localities the sale of high-priced! First, what is the significance of the usual annual increase, sales may fall... Marketing tool may partially explain his strong support of disarmament two-wheel horse cart the... When conditions improve even slightly, new suits create a need for new shoes earlier, the goals for as! And retail trade increased in number and importance percent rate of growth the respective were! That its influence over production and policies diminished as the revised goals lower. Days of the Soviet authorities have introduced a series of `` progressive '' marketing methods INFO. [ vii ] the following statistics are derived from Pravda, October 16,.. Higher price tags ) simply do not move not currently available to screen readers combatants in any war are at! From beer to eau de cologne have appeared throughout the country to the.! 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