U.S.S.R. and communism historical discussion.
[ Login ] [ Active ]

Quality of life in the USSR

Log-in to remove advertisement.
Post 04 Dec 2016, 13:51
Hello comrades. I have a question (as usual). Did Soviets in the big cities (Moscow, Leningrad, Tallinn, Kiev, etc) have all the basic necessities like an apartment, enough food and furniture? (FOCUSING ON THE LATE 1960s AND EARLY 1970s) I believe so according to multiple sources but I would just like to hear what others have to say about this. I do know that the USSR was way more prosperous than most African countries back then and nowadays, and more prosperous than some countries in Southeast Asia.

And I also think so because Russians nowadays have more problems now than back then, because they had access to less but they felt better because the state provided them with a job (I'm a teen from western Europe researching this topic so I don't have any inside sources). Nostalgia plays a big role as well, but if they were all poor and miserable they wouldn't want to go back to the system, right? So obviously emotions play a part in nostalgia but also simply opinions about the system.

Someone once told me that although shops were occasionally totally empty, basic goods were generally nearly always available and that people hoarded goods and kept them in cupboards. I'm drifting off here but my question is basically: did Soviets have everything needed for daily life? (yes I know it depends on status and your work and position in the USSR, but how was it for the average Soviet living with his/her family in a kruschyovka with 1-3 other families?)

thanks comrades, your help is always appreciated!

Post 09 Jan 2017, 23:57
I believe the only relevant member to answer this is @soviet78.
Post 10 Jan 2017, 13:06
I tried answering him a couple times Edvard, but stopped after he kept oddly repeating the same questions over and over again. Order (I think) ran into the same problem.

Soviets had most basic necessities taken care of by the 1970s, yes. Of course they lived better than most of the developing world - they were behind a dozen or so countries in Western Europe, North America, and Asia (Japan, Australia, New Zealand) but compared to world standards life was pretty good, as was HDI.

USSR is right about the psychological pressures faced by people today which just didn't exist back then (finding a job, having a place to live, worrying about crime/security). Russians have more trinkets today, including clothes, cheap electronics, plastic crap, but that's just the modern world I think. Among people 40 and over I think you'll be hard pressed to find someone who wouldn't trade whatever they have for what was offered by the Soviet system - and it's not about ideology.

Hoarding was a problem, yes, including hoarding by people who worked in sales; this I think was actually a place where major anti-corruption reforms could have done wonders. Stores were never totally empty, but there were problems with supply of some goods; oddly this depended to a very large degree on the effectiveness of local party bosses. Hence in Siberia's Tomsk Ligachev ensured the production of fresh vegetables even in winter using greenhouse technology, whereas in Yeltsin's Svedlovsk there were rationing cards for some basic items in the 80s.

People didn't live in Khrushchevkas with 3 other families; the Khrushchevkas were created precisely to eliminate the problem multiple families sharing accommodations. Families lived together mostly in Stalin-era Kommunalkas, and again a lot depended on the city. In Leningrad, housing was limited by the fact that buildings are old-style low rises, and the city's dimensions themselves are limited by geography; meanwhile, in a place like Naberezny Chelni or Zelenograd, where cities were built from scratch and there was no historical legacy to preserve, planners could create decent high rises with plenty of space between them.
Post 10 Jan 2017, 23:02
Thanks, @Soviet78.
In contemporary Leningrad (S.-P.) or Moscow for that matter, can a tourist see some remnants of socialist architecture for the masses? I mean, only Soviet style blocs of flats and similar infrastructure? Or are they all gone, hidden from the view of tourists?
Or, to put it in a different way, would you think that there are any tours offered to tourists who would enjoy visiting/viewing such places?
Post 11 Jan 2017, 22:01
Sure you can! They make up like 95% of the housing in Moscow. Authorities couldn't hide them from view even if they wanted to, since that would require building way more housing than post-Soviet Russia can afford. What you'll often see in the out of the way 'sleepy' neighborhoods is high-rises which were built recently, squeezed in between the Soviet-era housing. Unfortunately, this often has an impact on a rayon's feng shui, since the Soviet architects had deliberately planned a certain amount of space between buildings, blocks, etc. But now land has value, and authorities are corrupt, so they just build where they want. That's not the case in the city center, but a few clicks outside the inner ring road and it's all fair game.

If you're ever in Moscow I'd be happy to show you around these sleepy neighborhoods. I don't know whether anyone offers tours for that specifically though.
More Forums: The History Forum. The UK Politics Forum.
© 2000- Privacy.
[ Top ]