Budget Surveys

Budget Surveys


statistical sample surveys of family budgets which are the source of information on the standard of living of different social groups of the population. Budget surveys provide information about family incomes by sources (wages, payments for work at the kolkhoz, incomes from private farm plots, and payments and benefits out of public consumption funds, the latter including pensions, stipends, various grants, subsidies for keeping children in nursery schools and day-care centers, and others); family expenditures by function (purchase of food and nonfood goods); the provision of the family with housing and cultural and domestic articles; the composition of the family, employment, and education of its members; and so on.

In the Soviet Union, budget surveys are made by the Central Statistical Administration of the USSR. Information about family budgets is received by questioning members of the families being surveyed and using their records of incomes, expenditures, and consumption; this method ensures the greatest completeness and authenticity of information. The theoretical foundation of budget surveys is the sampling method. This method makes it possible to single out from the general population that number of families (the sample) which, when surveyed, will produce representative data on family budgets. The measure of representativeness is the relationship between indexes of the mean characterizing the sample data and the corresponding mean indexes for the general population. For budget surveys, types of families that differ by standard of living are selected. In order for the data to reflect the actual dynamics of the level of well-being of different social groups of the population with due regard for economic and natural-climatic conditions, national characteristics, and other socioeconomic factors, surveys are done systematically during the course of one year or several years in the same families. The uniformity of survey programs makes it possible not only to receive statistical information about the standard of living of families by social groups but also to compare these levels.

In a majority of the capitalist countries, budget surveys are made comparatively rarely (once in five to ten years), and they do not cover all groups of the population. The proportion of families with low incomes in the sample is usually understated and the proportion of families with high (nonlabor) income is exaggerated. Thus, in the sample of families for the nutritional survey conducted by the US Department of Agriculture in 1955, the proportions of families with incomes up to $1,000 and $3,000 a year proved to be understated and were, respectively, 7 percent and 30 percent of the total sample. According to data from the questionnaire sheets of the 1951 census of the population, the corresponding figures for the entire population were 30 percent and 48 percent. In the development of the data, small store owners, housewives, and so on were included in the entrepreneurial category; and the category of persons in free occupations included, in addition to craftsmen, owners of large offices, medical institutions, theatrical establishments, and so on. In this way the incomes of the capitalists were understated and the incomes of working people were exaggerated.

Budget surveys in Russia had their beginning in the surveys of peasant farms made in the 1870’s. Even earlier (1846), D. P. Zhuravskii, the well-known statistician and democrat, published his calculations of the budgets of families of “middle and low status.” In them he stressed the significance of budget data for analyzing the “economic and moral striving of each class.” The first one-time budget surveys in Russia were organized at the start of the 1870’s by zemstvo (elected district administration) statisticians and by various societies. It was at the same time during budget surveys that the sampling method was developed. For the first time in world practice, mechanical sampling (mechanical selection) of families was used; the representative nature of the sample was checked by comparing data on the sample group and the general population. The zemstvo statisticians used the expeditionary method of collecting information, which is based on going out and questioning those being surveyed. Budget surveys of the peasant envisioned the collection of materials on the economics of the peasant farm: his income, expenditures, and personal consumption. Budget surveys of industrial, office, and professional workers established the task of obtaining information on the level of incomes and consumption of the sectorial and occupational groups surveyed in this breakdown.

Budget surveys of industrial, office, and professional workers in Russia began to be done after the Revolution of 1905-07. Before 1917, six one-time surveys were made, in St. Petersburg, Kiev, and Baku and in Moscow Province; 4,500 budgets of industrial, office, and professional workers were collected.

The start of budget surveys of industrial, office, and professional workers after the Great October Socialist Revolution came in 1918 (the first one was organized by S. G. Strumilin in Petrograd). By 1922, more than 15 one-time surveys had been made: in Moscow, Petrograd, Kharkov, the Urals, the Donbas, and Middle Asia. They were directed by the Central Statistical Administration, the People’s Commissariat of Labor, and the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions. Regular budget surveys of about 3,000 worker families during one to two months of the year (known as the surveys of the “November” budgets) were organized in the USSR in 1922, and starting in 1925 year-round surveys were made. During these years, methods of sampling families and survey programs that reflect the characteristics of the shaping of the standard of living of the toiling masses in a socialist state were developed, a system for the classification of family incomes and expenditures was created, and groupings of budget data based on particular socioeconomic features were used. Since 1929 all work on budget surveys has been concentrated at the Central Statistical Administration. Onetime budget surveys have been replaced by surveys through the course of the year. In 1931 budget surveys of industrial workers were extended to the entire country, with a sample size of about 5,000 budgets. Since 1934 the Central Statistical Administration has also been surveying the budgets of engineering-technical personnel and office and professional workers. In the prewar years in the USSR, a total of almost 20,000 budgets was surveyed each year, including 12,000 budgets of industrial workers. During the Great Patriotic War of 1941-45, budget surveys continued, although the number of industrial, office, and professional worker families surveyed was reduced.

The budget surveys of peasants in Russia, which were first made in the Samara, Chernigov, Kherson, Nizhny Novgorod, and Perm’ provinces, did not involve a large number of households and characterized different strata of the peasants. The zemstvo statisticians of Voronezh Province conducted budget surveys of the peasants on a broader scale (67 households in 1886-87 and 230 households in 1887-96). Their experience in developing a number of methodological questions exerted an influence on the surveys made in the Kaluga (1896), Vologda (1903-07), Tula (1911-14), and other provinces. The programs for budget surveys of peasant households contained more than 1,000 questions. In a period of almost 50 years, more than 11,000 peasant budgets were surveyed in Russia. Many zemstvo statisticians, basing themselves on populist theories of the uniformity of the peasants, used unfounded averages (for the budgets of kulaks, middle peasants, and poor peasants) in developing and analyzing budget data. They were criticized for this by V. I. Lenin.

After the October Socialist Revolution, budget surveys of the peasants began to be conducted in 1919 (600 budgets). The task was set for organizing surveys on a national scale and obtaining representative information on production in the peasant household, its income and personal consumption. For the 1922-23 agricultural year, the size of the sample was about 3,000, while for 1925-26 it was more than 10,000 budgets. In the first years of Soviet power, budgets were surveyed by the expedition method (questioning members of the family). As the level of education of the peasants rose, many of those surveyed began to keep records of their budgets, which increased the authenticity of the information. In 1928, such records were already being kept in 2,500 households. In later years this became the basic method. The analysis of statistical information on peasant budgets during the 1920’s was based on groupings of households by planted areas, number of livestock, size of incomes, information on land rent, hiring and selling work force, the presence of industrial or trade establishments at the farm, and so on. Budget data characterized the economic and social relationships in the village on the eve of the collectivization of USSR agriculture. At the start of the 1930’s, when a majority of the peasants in the country had been joined in kolkhozes, the Central Statistical Administration of the USSR made radical changes in the programs and the development of family budgets and the surveys. In 1932, 6,500 budgets in the country were surveyed, whereas in 1938 it was 17,000, and in 1940 it was more than 21,000.

In 1968 the Central Statistical Administration of the USSR expanded the programs of budget surveys and switched their development to computers.

In 1969 about 62,000 budgets of different social groups in the population were surveyed, including about 36,000 budgets of industrial, office, and professional workers and more than 26,000 budgets of kolkhoz members. Along with systematic budget surveys, the Central Statistical Administration of the USSR conducts major one-time surveys of personal incomes on the basis of special programs. The first such survey was conducted in 1958 (240,000 families of industrial, office, and professional workers), and the second was done in 1967 (250,000 families).


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