Other surveys show even greater rates in the Tuvan Autonomous Republic, populated by Tuvans, a Turkic people, and Novosibirsk. 4 Poverty in the Soviet Union relative deprivation against a respectable mean. The budgets are an endless source of details, and so they also contain guidelines for what a minimum supply of household durables was, down to the number of chair (eight), cupboards (three), and kitchen stools (four). In terms of food, Sarkisian and Kuznestova calculated the food that the average family described above needed, you can see it in the first column: Matthews does not fully believe that this reference diet was an average diet for the poor, as if you compare with column 3, the average diet for the whole USSR decades later was in many categories behind the minimum diet of 1965. These were nonmonetary, and so they wouldn't appear in measures of inequality that rely on income like Gini. According to Bergson, McAuley's data underestimates inequality, and Ofer-Vinokur overestate it, although he thinks the latter are closer to the underlying truth. […] The Soviet Union: Poverty and inequality […]. This was barely enough to sustain two people under the rational budget. The health care system, health officials concede, serves no more than 60 … For at the September (1989) CPSU plenum on nationality, he admitted: ‘Despite impressive progress in “evening out the differences”, serious problems still remain in this area’ (ibid.). How many elites were there, going by this definition? No one was allowed to have more than one house, except for dachas, but those were only legally usable in summer. I didn't see any mention in your excerpts of non-monetary income. Mervyn Matthews, 52, teaches Soviet studies at the University of Surrey in Self-Fulfillment Through Work: Working Conditions in Soviet Factories 25-27 ANNA-JUTTA PIETSCH, University of Munich VII. Alexeev, M. V., & Gaddy, C. G. (1993). Poverty in the former Soviet Union was most prominent in the working population. This book has been cited by the following publications. The reason being no other that this article is one of the first ones. The social basis of the USSR is the unbreakable alliance of the workers, peasants, and intelligentsia. Ozornoy, G. I. Matthews attempts the exercise and comes up with revised figures for some cases, but the deviation is not substantial, although it slightly increases the number of people in poverty. McAuley does provide tables with his estimates, but what is of interest here for comparison purposes are summary statistics like the Gini index, and yours truly ~~is too lazy to manually calculate them ~~knows that those are available in later papers. Unemployment rates skyrocketed since all of their employment opportunities were owned and operated by the Soviet Government and the Soviet currency had been rendered useless; therefore, the now the vast majority of people free from communism were living in extreme poverty. After a protracted period of preoccupation with merit under Stalin, measures to "rectify" the university social structure were initiated by his successors, but seemingly with only limited effect. The framework inherited from the former Soviet government proved unsuitable for helping transitioning economies. Neither his opening speech nor the Resolution adopted by the 19th Party Conference in June 1988 stated a reduction of regional economic disparities as a desirable goal. Why despite of having the explicit goal of ending poverty and the State commanding the resources of the whole economy they didn't manage to end poverty. This would not change the percentage in poverty, but it did significantly change the relative standard of living between elite and poor, and I believe it was much greater than 3X when you consider the lives of the highest nomenklatura, elite Olympic athletes, etc. Bergson, A. Be the first one to write a review. But such dwellings continue to exist and are likely to house the poorest members of society. In Moscow, couples were found to have a poverty rate of 12-15% (Sample size of 100-388 families in 1977 and 1979). David, H. P. (1974). But the Soviet Union does have an official poverty line of 78 rubles a month. The primacy of the ‘state as a whole’ considerations over equity considerations in the investment shifts may be seen as a perfectly logical approach by decision-makers within the federal administration which actually pronounced that the task of inter-republican equalization had been resolved! Economic growth has been most lucrative for helping people in the former Soviet Union escape poverty. Alas, it wasn't quite like that. References. Buy the print book Check if you have access via personal or institutional login. Income Distribution in the USSR in the 1980s. In view of the complex or privileges accruing to them, the residual influence of egalitarianism on the material status of elite personnel has surely become attenuated, if it exists at all. In academic work, please cite this essay as: Ricón, José Luis, “The Soviet Union: poverty and inequality”, Nintil (2017-03-14), available at https://nintil.com/the-soviet-union-poverty-and-inequality/. Clothing was quite expensive in the Soviet Union, and a winter coat, which seems like a basic thing to have if you happen to live in Russia, was extremely expensive, and could consume a whole month worth of salary or more for an average worker (120-200 roubles). By the time I left the Soviet Union, people were actively avoiding Soviet cash in favor of foreign and durable goods (as payment for services). The article also provides an estimate of how many families were in a situation of poverty, as defined by the fact that in 1974 the government introduced a subsidy for needy families that earned under 50 rubles per month. In addition, scarcity of supply would have meant that not all of those items could have been purchased. Advanced: Economic History of the USSR (Nove) for the historic details, Allen's book for a more quantitative view, Janos Kornai's The Socialist System for an in-depth overview of socialism abstracted from any particular country. That is, the richer citizens preferred intellectual and active activities (study, art, scientific hobbies, and reading) while the poorer citizens preferred less intellectual and passive activities (radio and television, and what Matthews dubs 'relaxation and amusement'). The structural frameworks were able to do just enough to keep most people out of poverty. The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in large declines in GDP per capita, of about 30 to 35% between 1990 and the through year of 1998 (when it was at its minimum). While poverty continues to be a widespread issue around the world, countries with transitioning economies can look to the new governments in the former Soviet Union. Ozornoy (1992) mentions that indeed that happened until the 1950s, but since then, little convergence has happened. This is dubius, given the other posts in my Soviet series, but we'll add some comments regarding this below. This system, while ruthlessly egalitarian on first sight, it actually wasn't: A system such as this, oriented towards the provision of standard amounts of housing for all, with strict financial restraints, might be regarded as protective of poor people's interests. Around 40 million people escaped poverty from 1998 to 2003, although there is some disparity in growth between urban and rural areas as well as between different economic classes. Income inequality under Soviet socialism. The sharp fall in the per capita provision of urban housing during the first Five Year Plans, for example, necessitated special provision for managers and outstanding workers. But the paragraphs I was looking for were in Bergson's article. In order that the monetization be meaningful, it would be necessary to operate the consumer's goods market more effectively. The next paper of relevance is the clearly named Income Inequality under Soviet socialism by Abram Bergson (1984). By and large, defining poverty is easiest when the condition is acute. What did this poverty amount to, in practical terms? £72.00. But still, if one considers that such an amount supposes 10% of a wage, it is still extremely expensive. McAuley discusses the advantages and weaknesses of these datasets (Family budget surveys, income surveys, earnings censuses, and earnings surveys). 97% of the surveyed considered clothes to be a problem or an acute problem. - 22 comments, over 1 year old. Poverty in the Soviet Union: the life-styles of the underprivileged in recent years. In the Central Committee, one of the highest organs of Soviet politics, only 4.2% out of its 472 members (in 1981) were workers, 1.7% were peasants and 0.4% were low grade employees. Though not mentioned here, Matthews observes that it was commonly regarded across social classes in the USSR that mental jobs were of higher status and more desired than physical jobs. However, it wasn't successful in eliminating poverty, inequalities between republics, differences between the urban and rural areas, and even the 'distinctions between physical and mental work'. Find out how Russia ranks internationally on Economy > Poverty. I. Shkaratan 1973, p. 297). Section IX of Bergson's paper discusses the so called elite-classes of the USSR. Abortion and family planning in the Soviet Union: public policies and private behaviour. Who earns very high incomes in the USSR? Rather, the pattern suggests that the federal government, while providing an increment in investment to ensure some development in all republics, based its spatial investment allocation decisions on an assortment of general economic and geographical considerations, such as resource and energy development in Asiatic RSFSR, rates of return on capital, accessibility to markets and geopolitical factors. The situation was similar in secondary schools. Journal of Economic Literature, 22(3), 1052-1099. Looking for an inspection copy? Matthews wrote a whole book about the elites in the USSR, but I haven't been able to access it online. By NATALIYA VASILYEVA December 22, 2016 GMT. Regional Studies, 25(5), 381-393. We commonly find situations in which groups at the bottom of the income scale in one land are rich beyond the wildest dreams of average, or well-to-do citizens in another. Poverty in the Soviet Union The Life-styles of the Underprivileged in Recent Years. Would it have been possible to, through massive State investments, reduce the differences between the republics? It could be easily argued that the reason why these changes did not happen was the lack of political will. The complex of privileges itself calls for explanation. the poverty threshold of $10,614 for a family of four) spent 33 percent of its income on hous- ing, 22 percent on food, 18 percent on transportation, and five percent on clothing. Again, maybe. From The New York Times By CELIA W. DUGGER Despite the common perception that the gulf between rich and poor has widened in the former Soviet Union, a World Bank study released yesterday found that poverty has fallen sharply across the region and that inequality has lessened since the financial crisis in Russia in 1998 and 1999. I'm adding them this weekend. . By Western standards, he argued, 86 percent of the Soviet population is poor. Although reference is still not necessarily to elite personnel,it is illuminating that 62.9 percent of persons employed in "skilled mental work" or serving as "managerial personnel" in a Leningrad machinery factory in 1967 were children of specialists with higher education; 78.0 percent of the children of managerial personnel and 62.9 percent of the children of highly-skilled scientific technical personnel in Leningrad machinery enterprises in 1970 were either specialists or full-time students in advanced institutions; and 49.0 percent of "highly skilled personnel in . However, companies was plagued by overmanning due to the incentives mentioned above, and while measures were taken to try to reduce it, it still persisted. mc-auley-alastair.-economic-welfare-in-the-soviet-union.-poverty-living-standards-and-inequality Identifier-ark ark:/13960/t7ds2705f Ocr ABBYY FineReader 11.0 (Extended OCR) Page_number_confidence 95.07 Ppi 600 Scanner Internet Archive HTML5 Uploader 1.6.4. plus-circle Add Review. 114ff; 0. Detailed tabulated data  for the 1980s can be found in Alexeev (1993), which I reproduce below: I forgot to add some key paragraphs from Bergson about some privileges that elites had. And finally, it is worth having a look at what were the poorer and richer citizens of the USSR with their leisure time, as to some extent this mirrors the patterns found in the West. Officially, the poverty level in the Soviet Union for an urban family of four is 205.6 rubles a month ($339.24 at the officially established exchange rate of $1.65 to the ruble). Poverty in the Soviet Union The Life-styles of the Underprivileged in Recent Years. How did the Soviet Union go from being a third-world country, a victim of poverty, instability, revolutions, purges, hungers, executions, world wars, invasion, genocide, to a significant player by 1945 and a contender for world power in the 50s and 60s? 0.2% of all employees. Matthews, M. (1986). From the analysis here and the other posts in the series, it seems that it was an issue of miscalculation: thinking that the poor were better off than they were, and that they were able to acquire the resources that they needed with the money that they had. Reviews There are no reviews yet. As a result, the new governments introduced welfare-to-work programs to build self-sufficiency among the people. (1977). The Soviet Union not only tried to equalise incomes across the USSR, but also in theory, also between different republics. By 1967-68, the decile ratio was around 3, meaning that the richest citizens, on average, were earning three times as much as the poorest ones, which seems quite equal. Bergson makes the observation that judging from the previously mentioned Ofer-Vinokur work, the number of elites would increase if instead of main job income one considers total income. However, the Soviet government signed itself out of existence in 1991. fell in the Soviet Union during industrialization and in the postwar period is an important one, as our judgment of the Soviet growth model must rest not only on the rates of economic growth it achieved, but also on whether this growth translated into improved well-being for the population as a whole. Matthews also notes that the US poverty threshold, 32.8% of median income, a relative poverty measure, would put most of the Soviet population in the category of poor. 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