standard of living

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standard of living

standard of living, level of consumption that an individual, group, or nation has achieved. The evaluation of a standard of living is relative, depending upon the judgment of the observer as to what constitutes a high or a low scale. A relative index to the standard of living of a certain economic group can be gathered from a comparison of the cost of living and the wage scale or personal income. Factors such as discretionary income are important, but standard of living includes not only the material articles of consumption but also the number of dependents in a family, the environment, the educational opportunities, and the amount spent for health, recreation, and social services. Unemployment, low wages, crowded living conditions, and physical calamities, such as drought, flood, or war, may bring a drop in the standard of living, and, conversely, an increase in social benefits and higher wages may bring about a rise. While standard of living may vary greatly among various groups within a country, it also varies from nation to nation, and international comparisons are sometimes made by analyzing gross national products, per capita incomes, or any number of other indicators from life expectancy to clean water. Overall, industrialized nations tend to have a higher standard of living than developing countries. In the United States, as in most Western nations, the standard of living has shown a steady trend upward.


See F. J. Bayliss, The Standard of Living (1969); B. Mieczkowski and O. Zinam, Bureaucracy, Technology, Ideology: Quality of Life East and West (1984).

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standard of living

the level of material welfare, e.g. real purchasing power, of a person or household. As an average of all incomes, the standard of living of a nation may also be talked of as rising or falling. However, there are many difficulties with the concept. Obviously the same level of purchasing power will produce different standards of living in households with different numbers of dependents. In any case, the compilation of appropriate indices of purchasing power is far from straightforward, and comparisons between societies and across time are fraught with difficulties (e.g. the well-known debate on whether living standards rose or fell in the early decades of the industrial revolution). Issues also rise as to the relationship between the standard of living in such a relatively mechanical sense, and the ‘quality of life’, an even more subjective, but not less important, dimension. See also POVERTY.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Standard of Living


the degree to which people’s material, nonmaterial, and social needs are met and the population is provided with consumer goods and services.

The standard of living is expressed through a system of quantitative and qualitative indexes that reflect its various aspects; these indexes include gross per capita consumption of goods and services; the level of consumption of food products, nonfood commodities, and services; the real income of the population; wage levels and the size of payments from social consumption funds; the length of the workday and the amount of leisure time; housing conditions; and educational, public-health, and cultural indexes. The standard of living depends on the degree to which productive forces are developed (seeECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT, LEVEL OF) and on the nature of production relations. Changes in the standard of living are determined by the operation of economic laws, especially the fundamental economic law of a given society, and by the goal of social production.

Under capitalism, the standard of living reflects exploitative relations; hence, the living standards of the working people and the bourgeoisie differ radically. The fundamental economic law of capitalism places social limits on the working people’s standard of living, which does not rise above a level that guarantees the reproduction of the labor power required to extract surplus value and accumulate capital. In capitalist society the working people suffer relative or, in some periods, absolute impoverishment (seeABSOLUTE AND RELATIVE DETERIORATION OF THE PROLETARIAT’S SITUATION). Their standard of living is also affected by unemployment—the higher the level of unemployment, the lower their standard of living. In 1975, according to official statistics, the total number of fully unemployed persons in the industrially advanced capitalist countries was approximately 20 million, about half of whom were in the USA.

Hunger, unemployment, uncertainty about the future, and extreme intensity of labor cause many social ills, including drug addiction, psychological problems, cardiovascular diseases, and tuberculosis, all of which shorten the working life and the average life-span of working people.

Under socialism, the standard of living reflects relations of collective cooperation, by which society seeks to satisfy more fully the people’s material and cultural needs and to ensure the all-around development of every working person (seeFUNDAMENTAL ECONOMIC LAW OF SOCIALISM). A commitment to raising the standard of living is an integral part of the socialist way of life. In the course of communist and socialist construction in the socialist countries, a qualitatively new standard of living has been achieved for working people, who are free from exploitation. The freely contributed labor of every member of society capable of working provides the foundation for the socialist way of life and is the source of the rising standard of living. Socialism provides full employment for the entire population. In the USSR, according to the 1970 census, more than 92 percent of those capable of working were employed in social production, the rest being voluntarily unemployed. Unemployment has been completely eliminated in all the member states of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON).

In socialist society, the material basis for the steady rise in the standard of living is the planned development of social production, coupled with a steady growth in national income. In the USSR, three-fourths of the national income goes to consumption and one-fourth to accumulation. Since one-fifth of the accumulation fund is set aside for construction of housing, schools, hospitals, cultural and educational institutions, sports facilities, and enterprises providing municipal and consumer services, the amount of material goods that go directly to increase the people’s standard of living actually represents more than 80 percent of the national income. In Bulgaria, Hungary, the GDR, Poland, and Czechoslovakia, the proportion of the national income that is devoted to the consumption fund fluctuates between 69 and 77 percent.

In the capitalist countries most of the national income is appropriated by the exploiting classes. In 1974, according to official government statistics of the USA, the 20 percent of American families at the bottom of the social scale accounted for 5.4 percent of the total income, and the 20 percent at the top of the scale accounted for 41 percent.

Developed socialism provides for the simultaneous expansion of production and the improvement of the standard of living; such simultaneous advances are being achieved on an increasingly large scale. During the ninth five-year plan in the USSR, the amount of money expended on measures to raise the standard of living was approximately as great as during the two previous five-year plans combined. As a result, labor payment for more than 75 million people has increased, and pensions, benefits, stipends, and other monetary payments have gone up for 40 million people. The party’s program of social development for the Soviet countryside has been successfully implemented. As the standard of living of the Soviet population as a whole has risen, that of kolkhoz peasantry has improved even more rapidly than that of blue- and white-collar workers. This fact is reflected in the more rapid pace at which the income and labor payment of the peasants have increased and their level of education has risen. It is also reflected in the accelerated development of culture and public health in the villages and in the improvement of housing and consumer services. The more rapid rise in the standard of living of the kolkhoz peasantry is an important prerequisite for the overcoming of the socioeconomic and cultural disparities and the differences in everyday life between the city and the countryside.

One of the general indexes of the standard of living is real per capita income. In the USSR real income doubles approximately every 15 years; during the ninth five-year plan alone, it rose by 24 percent. By 1976, real income had increased over the prerevolutionary level by an average factor of 9.4 for industrial and construction workers and a factor of 13 for the peasantry; these figures take into account the elimination of unemployment and the shortening of the workday.

As social production has developed and the incomes of working people have increased, the level of consumption of goods and services has risen, and the pattern of consumption has improved. In the USSR, during the ninth five-year plan, the annual per capita consumption of meat and meat products increased by 10 kg (from 48 to 58 kg); the increase for milk and dairy products was 8 kg (from 307 to 315 kg); the increase for eggs was 56 units (from 159 to 215); and the increase for vegetables and melons was 5 kg (from 82 to 87 kg). The consumption of grain and grain products declined by 7 kg per capita, and that of potatoes by 10 kg. The rate at which the population has been supplied with durable cultural and domestic goods has shown a particularly rapid increase. The number of radios and radio-phonographs per 100 families went from 59 in 1965 to 78 in 1975; over the same period, the number of television sets went from 24 to 74, and the number of refrigerators went from 11 to 62. The member countries of COMECON have experienced a rapid growth in the consumption of more expensive food products, with a simultaneous decline in the consumption of grain products and potatoes. They have also increased their consumption of nonfood commodities and cultural and domestic goods (see).

Under socialism, the principal means of increasing the population’s income lies in wage increases: wages account for three-fourths of all increases in income. In the USSR the average monthly wage of blue- and white-collar workers rose 19 percent between 1971 and 1975, reaching 146 rubles; with payments and benefits from social consumption funds this figure amounted to 198 rubles. The income of kolkhoz workers obtained from collective production rose 25 percent.

Real security of income is guaranteed by the stability of state retail prices for basic commodities and by reductions in the prices of certain types of goods as the necessary conditions arise and as commodity resources accumulate. In 1974 the index of state retail prices in the USSR was 99.3 percent of the index in 1965. Apartment rents have not changed since 1928, and prices for municipal services and transportation have remained constant for an extended period. An increased standard of living, combined with constant retail prices, is one of the most important advantages of the Soviet economy, which is protected against the inflation that affects all capitalist countries. Between 1971 and 1975, prices for consumer goods and services rose by 39 percent in the USA, 84 percent in Great Britain, 53 percent in France, 35 percent in West Germany, and more than 70 percent in Japan.

Under socialism, the working people’s standard of living has also risen through the reduction or elimination of taxes. The main trend in taxation policy in the USSR is to reduce or eliminate taxes for workers in the lower wage scales. During the ninth five-year plan, taxes on earnings below 70 rubles per month were abolished for blue- and white-collar workers in all branches of the economy, and taxes on earnings below 90 rubles per month were reduced by an average of more than one-third.

Social consumption funds, which are growing at a rate exceeding that of the wage fund, are becoming an increasingly important factor in raising the standard of living in socialist countries. In 1975 in the USSR, payments and benefits beyond wages for industrial and construction workers represented more than a 30-fold increase, in comparable prices, over the prerevolutionary level. During the ninth five-year plan, the total volume of payments and benefits increased by a factor of 1.4, reaching 89.5 billion rubles in 1975. The social consumption funds make it possible to provide such services as education and health care free of charge or at reduced rates. They also provide support for those unable to work, such as the aged, invalids, and children. This helps reduce the disparities between the standards of living of various groups of working people. Low-income families draw on the social consumption funds for a greater share of the goods and services consumed than do families with large incomes.

The social consumption funds play an important role in raising the educational level of the population and in carrying out major social tasks pertaining to culture. The USSR has achieved complete literacy within a short historical period; in prerevolutionary Russia, three-fourths of the population was illiterate. During the ninth five-year plan, the transition to universal secondary education was virtually completed; by 1975, 75 percent of the working population of the USSR had either graduated from or attended an institution of higher learning or a secondary school; in 1939 the figure was only 12 percent.

The social consumption funds have also led to increased expenditures on public health. Under Soviet power, morbidity and infant mortality have been substantially reduced: in 1971–72 the average life-span was 70 years, which is twice the figure for prerevolutionary Russia. In Bulgaria the average life-span in 1971–72 was 71.1; in Hungary, 69.8; in Poland, 71.3; in Rumania 69.1; and in Czechoslovakia, 70.3. The USSR leads the world in the ratio of physicians to total population. Soviet physicians represent one-fourth of the world total; in 1975 the country had 33 physicians per 10,000 inhabitants. By contrast, the USA had 20; Great Britain, 15; France, 17.5; and the Federal Republic of Germany, 21. In most capitalist countries medical care, which must be paid for by the individual, constitutes a major part of a working family’s budget.

In the USSR expenditures have increased for the care and education of the young. In 1975, 11.5 million children were enrolled in preschool institutions, a figure that includes approximately half the children of preschool age in the cities and urban-type settlements. Approximately four-fifths of the cost of providing for their care comes out of the social consumption funds. In November 1974 monetary payments based on the number of children were introduced for families whose average per capita income did not exceed 50 rubles per month. Similar allowances have been adopted in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and a number of other socialist countries.

More than one-third of the social consumption funds reach the population through social security and social insurance payments. Approximately one-fourth of the social consumption funds take the form of pensions. For those with a required length of service, the Soviet Union has estabished one of the world’s lowest age requirements for receiving an old-age pension: 60 years for men and 55 for women. For several categories of workers, the age requirement is even lower. Pensions are provided by the state without any deductions from wages. In most capitalist countries men and women must reach the age of 65 or 70 in order to qualify for a standard pension. Moreover, the pensions are paid for largely by substantial sums, in the form of insurance payments, withheld from the wages of working people.

The USSR has made improvements in the pension system by increasing the size of pensions, especially minimum pensions, and by equalizing the pensions received by blue-collar, white-collar, and kolkhoz workers. During the ninth five-year plan, the minimum old-age pension was raised, and pension payments were increased for invalids and families that have lost their main provider. Additional benefits were also introduced for disabled veterans of the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 and for the families of military personnel who were killed in the war. The method for computing pensions for blue- and white-collar workers and their families was applied to collective farmers as well. In 1974 total expenditures for pensions amounted to 22.1 billion rubles.

A number of improvements in social benefits are provided for in the tenth five-year plan, which calls for additional increases in minimum pension payments and outlines measures designed to equalize social security benefits for the kolkhoz peasantry and blue- and white-collar workers. The plan also proposes measures to increase pension benefits for mothers with many children and to increase benefits for lifelong invalids.

Improvements in housing are an important part of the effort to raise the standard of living of workers in the socialist countries. In 1974 the number of apartments built per 10,000 persons in the USSR was 89; in Hungary, 84; in the GDR, 61; in Poland, 74; in Romania, 73; and in Czechoslovakia, 87. Between 1971 and 1975, 56 million Soviet citizens moved into new apartments or improved their housing conditions. More than 90 percent of new apartments were assigned according to the principle of one family per apartment; by contrast, in the 1950’s, only 30 percent of those improving their housing conditions received separate apartments. The social consumption funds pay for two-thirds of the housing stock; only one-third comes from apartment rents. Apartment rent, on the average, amounts to approximately 1 percent of the family budget of blue- and white-collar workers, a figure that reaches only about 4 percent when municipal services are added in. By contrast, in the industrially advanced capitalist countries working people pay approximately one-third of family income, on the average, for housing, a figure that is on the increase.

The rising standard of living under socialism is also characterized by a steady decrease in the workday and an increase in the leisure time of working people. In 1974 the average workweek for industrial workers in the USSR was 40.7 hours, an amount 18 hours less than the prerevolutionary level. Taking into account the shortening of the workday for certain categories of workers, the average workweek for all blue- and white-collar workers in the Soviet economy amounted to 39.4 hours, a figure that represents one of the shortest workweeks in the world. Moreover, paid vacations have increased, reaching a minimum of 15 workdays in 1968. In the mid-1970’s the number of free days per year—days off, holidays, and vacations—was 128–130, which is almost double the figure for the mid-1960’s.

The shortened workday, longer leaves, and lighter housework have led to an increase in real leisure time, which under socialism constitutes, according to Marx, the true wealth of every individual and of society as a whole (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 26, part 3, p. 264).


Materialy XXVs”ezda KPSS. Moscow, 1976.
Zabota partii i pravitel’stva o blage naroda: Sbornik dokumentov, Oktiabr’ 1964–1973. Moscow, 1974.
Sarkisian, G. S. Uroven’, tempy iproportsii rosta real’nykh dokhodov pri sotsializme. Moscow, 1972.
Levin, B. M. Sotsial’no-ekonomicheskie potrebnosti: Zakonomernosti formirovaniia i razvitiia. Moscow, 1974.
Kapustin, E. I. Rost blagosostoianiia sovetskogo naroda—vysshaia tsel ekonomicheskoi politiki KPSS. Moscow, 1974.
V. I. Lenin, KPSS o povyshenii zhiznennogo urovnia trudiashchikhsia: Dokumenty i materialy. Moscow, 1975.


Standard of Living


A steady rise in the standard of living is a natural phenomenon of a socialist society and a manifestation of the fundamental economic law of socialism. An economic necessity, the fundamental law reflects the very essence of socialism and its goal, which consists in ensuring the “full well-being and free, all-round developing for all the members of society” (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 6, p. 232). At all stages of building a socialist society the development of the USSR’s economy was carried out in the interests of growth in the people’s standard of living. Under the conditions of developed socialism it becomes possible and necessary for the economy to devote substantial attention to the diverse problems connected with a higher standard of living. The social program that is being carried out affects all aspects of the Soviet people’s material and intellectual life. It is directed at satisfying more fully the needs of all strata of the population and all categories of the working people. The intensification of social production and the increase of its efficiency have brought about a steady rise in the level of consumption and an improvement in its structure.

National income. The source of the people’s standard of living is the national income of the society. The growth of the national income has made possible an increase in the volume of popular consumption. The USSR’s national income increased by a factor

Table 1. Growth of national income in the USSR from 1960 to 1980 (in prices of corresponding years)
 National income produced (billion rubles)Per capita national income (rubles)
1960 ...............145.0676
1965 ...............193.5838
1970 ...............289.91,194
1975 ...............363.31,428
1980 ...............462.21,741

of 75 between 1913 and 1980 and by a factor of 14.1 between 1940 and 1980. The increases in the national income have also grown. During the eighth (1966–70) and ninth (1971–75) five-year plans the increases in the national income alone exceeded the total national income produced in the early 1950’s. Table 1 shows the growth in national income between 1960 and 1980.

The growth dynamics and level of the standard of living are influenced not only by the increase in the volume of the national income but also by the distribution of the national income between the consumption fund and the accumulation fund. The increase in the share of the consumption fund has helped accelerate the growth in the people’s standard of living. The increase in the national income is in part due to a more well-rounded development of industry, to a rapid increase in the gross output of agriculture, and to growth of group B branches of the economy. These factors have also helped increase the consumption fund (see Table 2).

The total volume of the national income between 1971 and 1975 was 34 percent greater than between 1966 and 1970 and 86 percent greater than between 1961 and 1965. The real content of each percentage point increase in the national income has also grown. For example, a 1 percent increase in the national income during the seventh five-year plan (1961–66) was equal to 1.5 billion rubles in comparable 1973 prices; for the tenth five-year plan (1976–80) the figure was expected to be 3.6 billion rubles. The consumption fund, with corresponding increases of 1.1 billion rubles and 2.7 billion rubles, has accounted for approximately 75

Table 2. Utilization of national income in the USSR for consumption and accumulation from 1965 to 1980 (in prices of corresponding years, billion rubles)
Total national income ...............190.5285.5363.0454.1
Consumption ...............140.3201.3266.4345.5
Accumulation and other expenditures ...............

percent of the national income. Taking into account the part of the accumulation fund that was spent on the construction of housing, schools, hospitals, cultural institutions, sports facilities, and service enterprises, approximately four-fifths of the national income went directly toward the raising of the standard of living. An index of the production of national income, computed on a per capita basis in various countries, is used to provide comparative international figures on the standard of living (see Table 3).

The growth rate of the national income of the USSR between 1951 and 1980 amounted to 7.4 percent, compared to 3.5 percent in the USA. As a result of its higher growth rate, the USSR is catching up with the USA. For example, the USSR’s national income was 31 percent of the USA’s in 1950 and 67 percent in 1980. The average per capita amount of produced national income in the USSR gives a true picture of the country’s standard of living despite slight differentiation in incomes among various groups and social strata. In capitalist countries it is a mere statistic that obscures the genuine state of affairs, since the extremely high incomes of the capitalists and the low incomes of the working people are combined and are represented by an average figure.

Table 3. Per capita national income in the USSR and industrially developed capitalist countries (1977, estimate1; dollars)
 In accordance with official currency exchangeIn accordance with prices
1Computed according to the methodology adopted for USSR statistics, that is, without counting twice the amount of income received in the nonproduction sphere
USSR ...............2,1152,599
USA ...............4,6554,655
Federal Republic of Germany2 ...............3,2702,265
France2 ...............2,6702,410
Japan2 ...............2,235
Great Britain2 ...............1,6401,920
Italy2 ...............1,4601,480

In the USSR the Communist Party’s economic policy seeks to make as full use as possible of all factors that contribute to growth in the volume of the national income: growth of the total social product, increase in capital productivity, lowering of material consumption in output, and increase of productivity of social labor, efficiency of production, and quality of output, through scientific and technological progress and the intensification of production.

Real income of the population. The growth of the national income underlies improvement in all the important indicators that characterize the people’s material well-being, particularly in the real income of the population (see Table 4).

Table 4. Growth of real income in the USSR (1913 = 1)
1Taking into account the elimination of unemployment and the reduction in the length of workday
Growth of real income of workers in Industry and construction (average per worker)1 ...............
Growth of real income of peasants (average per worker) ...............2.37.811.216.1

Real income is a general index of the people’s standard of living. It characterizes the quantity of material goods and services obtainable by the population, allowance being made for changes in retail prices and outlays for taxes and other mandatory payments. The level of the population’s real income is influenced by the amount of wages earned by industrial, or blue-collar, workers and nonindustrial, or white-collar, workers and by labor payments on kolkhozes, as well as by free education, medical and cultural services, pensions, stipends, and other payments and benefits from the social consumption fund and by subsidized rent and communal services, stable or decreasing prices on consumer goods, and low fares for urban transit.

Before the revolution supplemental payments to workers and outlays for free education and medical care were insignificant. According to approximate calculations by the Central Statistical Board of the USSR, total payments and benefits received by workers in industry and construction above wages grew by a factor of more than 30 between 1913 and 1977. Peasants had a low standard of living in prerevolutionary Russia. They paid out approximately 20 percent of their incomes in the form of land and other assessments and lease and insurance payments and discharged various obligations. In the mid-1970’s taxes and charges payable by kolkhoz workers amounted to only about 3 percent of their incomes. Income growth has been accompanied by a considerable shortening of the workday and the workweek (see).

In the USSR, a systematic and rapid growth of real income is assured for all strata of society. With each five-year plan the differentiation of real incomes among various population groups decreases. In order to equalize the standard of living of industrial workers and peasants, the real incomes of kolkhoz workers are being raised at a higher rate than those of industrial workers. Thus the real income, per working person, of industrial and non-industrial workers grew by a factor of 4 between 1940 and 1980; the corresponding figure for kolkhoz workers was 7. As a result of important social measures taken in the 1960’s, the gap in real income levels between kolkhoz workers and industrial and nonindustrial workers was substantially reduced.

High growth rates for the real income of the population are a result of such factors as wage increases for industrial and nonindustrial workers, higher labor payments on kolkhozes, and increases in pensions, stipends, and other payments and benefits, along with a consistent policy of abolishing or lowering taxes (see Table 5).

Table 5. Growth of real per capita income in the USSR
Real income for total population
percent of 1940 ...............100298398582
percent of 1965 ............... 100133195
percent of 1970 ...............  100146

The principal part of the real income of the population consists of remuneration for labor. An important role in the growth of real income is played by the social consumption funds. In the USSR they are growing at a more rapid rate than the wages fund. The party’s long-term social program is aimed at raising the standard of living and cultural level of the working people. In addition to providing increases in the real income of the population, it has been responsible for considerable growth in the consumption of material goods (both food and nonfood products) and services and for improved housing conditions with consistently low rents. It has led to growth of health care facilities and educational and cultural institutions and to increases in working people’s free time. Real per capita income in the USSR doubles every 15 years. Consequently, socialist society reaches a qualitatively new level of consumption several times during the course of a lifetime.

Wages of industrial and nonindustrial workers and labor payments on kolkhozes. The principal means of satisfying the needs of the working people and ensuring the rise of their standard of living is the remuneration received by industrial and nonindustrial workers and by kolkhoz workers for the functions they perform in social labor. The Soviet state considers wages not only a form of distribution of the social product in accordance with the quantity and quality of labor but also an important socioeconomic instrument, an incentive to accelerate socialist production, increase its efficiency, and raise labor productivity.

Between 1913 and 1980 the per capita wages of workers in industry and construction (after deducting taxes, adding pensions and monetary benefits, and including free education, medical care, and other payments and benefits) increased by a factor of 7.5. Per capita monetary income and income in kind for kolkhoz workers from the socialized and private agricultural sectors (after deducting taxes and charges) increased during this period by a factor of 10.5.

In the 1970’s wages accounted for more than 70 percent of the total amount of income in the family budgets of industrial and nonindustrial workers. About three-fourths of the total annual increase in the real income of the population is made up of increases in wages for industrial and nonindustrial workers and in labor payments to kolkhoz workers.

Real wages grow as a result of not only the increase of nominal (monetary) wages but also the lowering or stabilization of retail prices and the reduction or elimination of taxes. Thus, the average monthly monetary wages of industrial and nonindustrial workers rose from 43.9 rubles to 71.8 rubles between 1946 and 1955. Since 1947, retail prices have been reduced, in part to regularize consumer prices, which had been disrupted during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45.

Beginning in the mid-1950’s the USSR raised the standard of living primarily through wage increases and through increases in labor payments to kolkhoz workers in the socialized sector of the economy. Priority was given to lower- and middle-income industrial and nonindustrial workers. The minimum wage rapidly increased from 27–35 rubles in the mid-1950’s to 40–45 rubles in the mid-1960’s. In January 1968 it was increased to 60 rubles. In the 1970’s the minimum wage was raised to 70 rubles for industrial and nonindustrial workers in material production. At the same time, basic wage rates and fixed salaries were raised for middle-income industrial and nonindustrial workers, as well as for teachers, physicians, and some other workers in the nonproduction sphere. All these processes have affected the dynamics of wages in the national economy (see Table 6).

In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s raises were given to industrial and nonindustrial workers in all branches of the economy. Before 1962 wages were raised for industrial and nonindustrial workers in the production branches, including industry, construction, transportation, communications, and agriculture. In 1964 and 1965 they were raised for workers in branches that directly serve the population. During the sixth and seventh five-year plans wages increased at an average rate of 3 percent per year, during the eighth five-year plan they rose by 4.8 percent a year, during the ninth five-year plan by 3.6 percent per year, and during the tenth five-year plan by 3 percent per year. Wage increases also resulted from growth in labor productivity and the upgrading of worker skills. The average annual wages of industrial and non-industrial workers in 1975 were almost 600 rubles higher than in

Table 6. Growth of average monthly monetary wages of industrial and nonindustrial workers by branches of the national economy (rubles)
11ndustrial, or blue-collar, workers
Total wages in the national economy ...............33.196.5122.0145.8168.9
Industry (industrial production personnel) ...............34.1104.2133.3162.2185.4
workers1 ...............32.4101.7130.6160.9185.5
Agriculture ...............23.375.0101.0126.8149.2
sovkhozes, interfarm enterprises, and auxiliary and other agricultural enterprises ...............22.374.6100.9127.3149.7
workers1 ...............20.972.598.8125.3149.0
Transportation ...............34.8106.0136.7173.5199.9
Communication ...............
Construction ...............36.3111.9149.9176.8202.3
construction and installation work personnel ...............34.0112.4153.0181.1204.5
workers1 ...............31.1108.4148.5180.3207.9
Trade, food service industry, material and technical supply and sales, and farm product procurement ...............
Housing, communal, and consumer services ...............
Public health, physical culture, and social security ...............25.579.092.0102.3126.8
Public education ...............33.196.1108.1126.6135.9
Culture ...............22.367.384.892.2111.3
Arts ...............
Science and scientific services ...............47.1120.6139.5157.5179.5
Credit and state insurance ...............33.486.3111.4133.8162.2
Apparatus of bodies of state and economic administration and administrative bodies of cooperative and public organizations ...............39.0105.9123.2131.8156.4

1965. During the period 1971 to 1975 wages were increased for more than 75 million industrial and nonindustrial workers exclusively as a result of various wage-increase plans.

The Twenty-fifth Congress of the CPSU approved a program of social development and further raising of the people’s standard of living. In accordance with the program, the Central Committee of the CPSU, the Council of Ministers of the USSR, and the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions in December 1976 approved a decree providing for an increase in the minimum wage for industrial and nonindustrial workers and a simultaneous increase in basic wage rates and fixed salaries for middle-income employees in nonproduction branches of the national economy. Wages were to be raised for 31 million employees by an average of 18 percent. Planned state expenditures for this purpose were to exceed 7 billion rubles annually. Wages were to be increased for workers in the fields of education, public health, social security, physical culture and sports, cultural education, and the performing arts, as well as for employees in such areas as trade, the food service industry, housing and communal services, scientific institutions, and state administrative bodies. A considerable raise in wages was planned for workers in public and social services, including nurses, pharmacists, nursery attendants, librarians, club employees (especially in rural areas), salespersons, and many other categories of industrial and nonindustrial workers in non-production branches of the economy.

In 1977 the minimum wage was raised to 70 rubles a month for industrial and nonindustrial workers in all branches of the economy throughout the USSR. Also raised were fixed salaries and basic wage rates for middle-income workers in nonproduction branches of the economy in the Far North and equally remote regions in the European North, the Far East, Siberia, the Urals, Kazakhstan, Middle Asia, the Volga Region, and the Volga-Viatka Economic Region. In the period 1976–78, workers in certain other categories also received raises.

Payments in kind and monetary income have also been raised for kolkhoz workers as a result of increases in labor productivity and skills. In promulgating measures to increase labor payments on kolkhozes, an increase in the basic wage rates and fixed salaries of sovkhoz workers was taken into account. In accordance with resolutions made by the March 1965 plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, kolkhozes switched over to monetary payment for labor; this change was a step in the implementation of measures to increase the material incentives for kolkhoz workers to contribute to social production. For the first time a monthly guaranteed labor payment was established for kolkhoz workers relative to the production norms and labor remuneration on sovkhozes of the given region and independent of the farm’s productivity. Social insurance was also introduced for the kolkhoz workers. Labor payments to machinery operators were also increased. Basic wage rates have been raised for tractor and machinery operators, and supplementary payments that depend on length of service have been instituted. The title Master Livestock Breeder, First or Second Class, is awarded to outstanding workers, along with supplementary payments. Labor payments to specialists have been increased.

Largely as a result of these measures, the standard of living among rural workers has grown at a faster rate than among urban industrial and nonindustrial workers. During the eighth five-year plan, labor payments to kolkhoz workers increased by 46 percent, and the wages earned by sovkhoz workers went up by 35.5 percent. During the ninth five-year plan the respective raises were 23 and 26 percent, whereas the wages of industrial and non-industrial workers increased by 26 percent during the eighth five-year plan and by 20 percent during the ninth five-year plan. Along with their monetary incomes, kolkhoz workers receive payments in kind from the socialized sector. Furthermore, kolkhoz workers and sovkhoz workers have considerable incomes from their household plots. Labor payments to kolkhoz workers also depend upon the gross income of the kolkhoz, the rapid growth of which guarantees the growth of their standard of living. As computed per kolkhoz household, the gross income of kolkhozes was as follows: 1,162 rubles in 1965, 1,587 rubles in 1970, 1,651 rubles in 1975, and 1,532 rubles in 1980. At the same time, monetary income and payment in kind to kolkhoz workers increased (see Table 7).

Table 7. Growth of the gross income of kolkhozes and labor payments to kolkhoz workers
1Not including fishing kolkhozes
Gross income of kolkhozes1 (in prices of respective years, billion rubles) ...............17.922.822.319.6
Labor payments to kolkhoz workers in money and in kind (billion rubles) ...............1.515.016.719.0
per man-day worked (rubles) ...............2.683.904.545.52

The growth of monetary income among the working people was accompanied by a decline during the period 1947 to 1954 of retail prices on certain food products and industrial goods; this decline contributed to an increase in the real income of the population. The increase in the standard of living of the rural population was also facilitated by the elimination in 1961 and in 1965 of surcharges on industrial goods sold in rural areas. On the whole, between 1951 and 1977, prices on consumer goods were reduced by 25 percent. The retail price index for consumer goods in 1977 was 39 percent higher than in 1940. The average monthly wage throughout the national economy increased by a factor of 4.7, and the social consumption funds grew by a factor of almost 21. As a result, per capita real income increased by a factor of 5.3.

The Soviet state, with its planned, socialist economy, maintains stable prices on basic consumer goods. As it accumulates commodity resources and creates necessary economic conditions, it reduces prices on individual commodities. Stable retail prices in the USSR bear witness to the superiority of a socialist planned economy over the capitalist system of economy, where during the postwar period prices on consumer goods have increased several times.

Social consumption funds. Social consumption funds constitute that part of the consumption fund intended to meet the needs of the population that are not met through the wages fund; that is, subsidies are provided so that needs are satisfied free of charge or at reduced prices. The social consumption funds enable the population of the USSR to receive free medical care and tuition-free education at all levels. The funds are used to pay for monetary benefits, pensions, stipends, vacations, and free or reduced-cost admissions to sanatoriums and rest homes. They cover a considerable part of expenses for maintaining children in nurseries, kindergartens, and Pioneer camps. They also subsidize housing and communal services, since the low apartment rents cover only about one-third of all the state’s expenses for maintaining housing. To a large extent, social consumption funds help equalize the incomes of the various social strata of the population, since they constitute a form of distribution of the social product as a supplement to labor-remuneration incomes. As social production and the national income grow, the social consumption funds also increase. With every five-year plan they play an increasing role in the life of the USSR’s working people (see Table 8).

Table 8. Growth of the social consumption funds
Total payments and benefits (billion rubles) ...............4.641.963.9117.0
Education ...............
stipends ...............
Public health and physical culture ...............1.06.910.017.2
Social security and social insurance ...............0.914.422.845.6
benefits ...............
pensions ...............0.310.616.233.3
Per capita payments and benefits (rubles) ...............24182263441

In 1977 social consumption funds reached 99.5 billion rubles. Between 1960 and 1977 they increased by 72.2 billion rubles and came to constitute one-fourth of the national income. Payments and benefits received by the population from the social consumption funds totaled 274 billion rubles between 1971 and 1975, and 194.5 billion rubles in 1976 and 1977.

As a result of the growth of social consumption funds, payments and benefits amounted to more than one-fifth of all income in the family budgets of industrial and nonindustrial workers in the mid-1970’s. Families with below-average incomes enjoy a share that is still higher. The consistent growth of wages and of the social consumption funds ensured an increased percentage of households in the population with moderate and high incomes and a sharp decline in the percentage of households with low incomes (not more than 50 rubles per capita monthly). Between 1965 and 1977 the number of families with a monthly income of 100 rubles or more for each member increased almost tenfold. On the whole, per capita monetary incomes almost doubled between 1966 and 1975. The average monthly wage for industrial and nonindustrial workers, including payments and benefits from the social consumption funds, grew from 164.5 rubles to 212 rubles between 1971 and 1977. The increase in pensions, stipends, and other benefits and payments between 1971 and 1975 provided income increases for approximately 40 million persons.

During the 1970’s, the role of centralized state measures in the solution of social problems substantially increased. The raising of labor payments and of pensions, stipends, monetary benefits, and other means of social assistance required an expenditure of funds 1.7 times greater than in the period 1966 to 1970 and 2.6 times greater than in the period 1961 to 1965. With regard to the amount of funds assigned and the scope of the areas covered, the social program of the ninth five-year plan surpassed the social programs of all previous five-year plans.

During the 1970’s, increased amounts from the social consumption funds were designated for the development of public education. Universal secondary education has been made available to young people, and the network of vocational-technical schools providing specialized training along with a secondary education has been expanded. Each year the number of libraries, clubs, museums, and other institutions of culture and art increases.

The state, enterprises, kolkhozes, and trade unions have increased expenditures for the maintenance of health, physical culture, and rest and recreation.

A large part of the total of the social consumption funds is designated for vacations for working people and related expenditures. Until 1968 industrial and nonindustrial workers received a maximum of 12 workdays of annual paid vacation. More than one-third of industrial and nonindustrial workers had a vacation of this length. On Jan. 1,1968, a paid vacation of not less than 15 workdays was established. In the early 1980’s more than two-fifths of industrial and nonindustrial workers had annual paid vacations of 24 workdays or more. For industrial and nonindustrial workers under 18 years of age the length of the vacation is a full calendar month.

Public expenditures on the upbringing and education of the younger generation have increased. In 1980 permanent preschool institutions had an enrollment of 14.3 million. Maintaining one child in a children’s institution costs 500–580 rubles per year, of which the parents pay only 20 percent. A family with two schoolchildren receives more than 350 rubles per year from the social consumption funds. It costs society more than 1,000 rubles a year to educate a student in a higher educational institution, or a total of more than 5,000 rubles for a five-year program of study; a pupil in a specialized secondary educational institution costs 700 rubles annually. There is a growing network of palaces and houses of Pioneers, Young Engineers’ stations, and other extracurricular institutions, which facilitate education and the development of creative capabilities among children and young people.

More than one-third of the amount of the social consumption funds goes for payments to the population through the system of social security and social insurance. More than one-fourth of the amount of the social consumption funds is accounted for by pensions. The provision, by the state, of pensions for working people was established after the October Revolution of 1917. In 1956 a law on state pensions was adopted that raised the level of pensions considerably and expanded the range of persons entitled to a pension. In 1964 a law was passed on state pensions and benefits for kolkhoz members. A system of pensions based on these laws now covers all working people (see Table 9).

Table 9. Number of persons receiving pensions (beginning of year, million persons)
Total pensioners ...............4.016.532.040.146.7
old-age pensioners ...............0.21.916.023.730.8
Kolkhoz pensioners ...............7.912.111.5
old-age pensioners ...............7.010.510.0

Pensions are granted for old age, disability, loss of breadwinner, and other reasons. The USSR has one of the lowest age requirements in the world for an old-age pension (assuming the person worked a required period of time): 60 for men and 55 for women. Industrial and nonindustrial workers who work below ground, in high-temperature shops, or under other extreme conditions receive a pension upon reaching the age of 50 or, in the case of women, 45.

In capitalist countries, one may qualify for an old-age pension between the ages of 60 and 70. For example, men and women in the USA, Canada, the Federal Republic of Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden, and Finland qualify for an old-age pension between the ages of 63 and 65; in Denmark and Norway the qualifying age is 67, and in Great Britain and Belgium it is 65 for men and 60 for women. Considerable sums are withheld from working people’s wages during their years of employment to pay for their pensions.

In the USSR, exceptions are made in regard to minimum age and employment period for women who have borne five or more children and have reared them to the age of eight.

In the 1970’s total sum of expenditures on pensions amounted to 27.1 billion rubles. Pensions are paid without deductions or taxes. Between 1961 and 1977 the total pension fund increased by a factor of 3.8; the growth factor for the period from 1971 to 1977 was 1.7. During the period from 1966 to 1970 pensions were increased for persons disabled as a result of wounds, contusions, or mutilation received while defending the motherland or in carrying out other duties of military service, as well as a result of illnesses resulting from time spent at the front. The pension age for veterans disabled during the Great Patriotic War was reduced by five years. For certain female workers in the textile industry the age was lowered from 55 to 50. Benefits were established for invalids since childhood in the first and second groups who have reached the age of 16. The age for receiving old-age pensions was reduced for kolkhoz workers and is now equal to those of industrial and nonindustrial workers. Benefits have been established for disabled kolkhoz workers.

Table 10. Consumption of principal food products (annual per capita, kg)
1 Data cited are averages for the entire population. However, the consumption of food products by working people before the revolution was considerably lower than the average level. Working people consumed an average of about 20 kg of meat and about 120 kg of milk annually.
Meat and meat products counted as meat (including fat and by-products) ...............2926414858
Milk and milk products counted as milk ...............154172251307314
Eggs (units) ...............4860124159239
Fish and fish products ...............
Sugar ...............8.111.634.238.844.4
Vegetable oil ...............
Potatoes ...............114241142130109
Vegetables and melons ...............4051728297
Fruits (including berries but excluding fruits processed into wine) ...............1111283538
Grain products (bread and macaroni products counted as flour, as well as flour, groats, and legumes) ...............200172156149138

Between 1971 and 1975 the minimum old-age pensions for industrial and nonindustrial workers and kolkhoz workers were raised. Pensions were increased for invalids and for families that have lost their breadwinner. A number of benefits were granted to disabled veterans of the Great Patriotic War and to the families of servicemen who perished during the war. The age for awarding old-age pensions to female machinery operators was reduced from 55 to 50. Benefits for pregnancies and births amounting to full wages were granted to all working women regardless of how long they have been employed at their place of work. The number of paid days granted for caring for a sick child was increased. Benefits were introduced for needy families with children. Stipends were increased for students at higher educational institutions, specialized secondary educational institutions, and technical schools. Expenditure rates were raised for food and medicine in hospitals, Pioneer camps, urban vocational-technical schools, and homes for the aged and disabled.

In 1976 and 1977 pensions were increased for several categories of workers in various branches of the economy.

Production and sale of consumer goods. The Soviet state, by planning the growth of the population’s income, ensures an increase in the production of consumer goods and services. The most intensive growth of goods production occurred from the 1960’s through the 1970’s. Between 1940 and 1977 the total volume of retail commodity turnover in state, cooperative, and kolkhoz trade increased by a factor of 8.5 in comparable figures (see).

A high level of average per capita consumption of food products has been attained. Consumption of food products during the eighth and ninth five-year plans grew at an especially rapid pace (see Table 10).

Table 11. Consumption of principal nonfood products (annual per capita)
1Consumption, including fabrics used in industrial products (upholstery of automobiles, furniture, etc.), consisted of the following (in sq m): fabrics of all types 42.0, including cotton 28.6, woolen 3.0, silk 7.6, and linen 2.8
Fabrics, excluding those used in industrial products (total in sq m) ...............13.416.526.530.434.61
cotton ...............11.613.919.121.223.8
woolen ...............
silk ...............
linen ...............
Knitted outerwear (pieces) ...............
Knitted underwear (pieces) ...............
Hosiery (pairs) ...............
Leather footwear (pairs) ...............

A high level has also been attained in the per capita consumption of basic nonfood products (see Table 11). The consumption of nonfood products is growing faster than that of food products. Thus, between 1940 and 1980 sales of all commodities in comparable prices increased by a factor of 10.6, but sales of food products grew by a factor of 7.6; sales of nonfood products increased by a factor of 16.4. Moreover, there was in this period an improvement in the amount of nutritious foods consumed. Sale of flour and of bread and other baked goods increased by a factor of 2.7, and sales of sugar grew by a factor of 7.8; by contrast, sales of meat and meat products increased by a factor of 14, and sales of milk and milk products (such as cheese, including brynza) rose by a factor of 18.

As a result of the increased effective monetary demand of the population during the same period, sales of ready-made clothes and underwear grew by a factor of 14.8, sales of knitwear by a factor of 34, sales of furniture by a factor of 34, sales of clocks and watches by a factor of 16, sales of glassware and of porcelain and faïence ware by a factor of 19, sales of radios and radio-phonographs by a factor of 42, and sales of jewelry by a factor of 93. By 1980, sales to the public of passenger cars exceeded 1 million units, a figure 9.5 times as great as in 1970. The most rapid growth occurred in the sales and consumption of high-quality and durable goods. Table 12 gives data on the growth in the supply of durable goods available to the public.

Table 12. Supply to the population of durable consumer goods (end of year, units)
 Per 100 familiesPer 1,000 population
Clocks and watches ...............3194115188851,1931,523
Radios and radio-phonographs ...............597285165199250
Television sets ...............24518568143249
Refrigerators ...............1132862989252
Washing machines ...............21527059141205
Motorcycles and motor scooters ...............6710172129
Bicycles and mopeds ...............485049134145144
Sewing machines ...............525665144161190

The increase of monetary income among the rural population brought about an increase in the proportion of sales of nonfood products (including goods for cultural and domestic use) in rural areas. During the period 1966 to 1980 the proportion of television

Table 13. Income and expenditures of an industrial worker’s family (percent)
Aggregate family income ...............100100100
Wages of family members ...............71.373.174.2
Pensions, stipends, and other payments and benefits from social consumption funds (including free education and medical treatment) ...............14.522.823.3
Income from smallholdings ...............
Income from other sources ...............
Expenditure of aggregate income ...............100100100
Food ...............53.837.931.7
Fabrics, clothing, and footwear ...............11.113.916.1
Furniture and other goods for cultural and domestic use ...............
Building materials ...............0.40.4
Fuel ...............
Cultural and domestic services ...............17.624.313.5
education, medical treatment, and other free services provided by social consumption funds ...............9.013.814.1
Payments for rent, communal services, and maintenance of private homes ...............
Accumulations (increase of ready cash, savings, deposits, etc.) ...............
Taxes ...............
Miscellaneous expenditures ...............

sales increased from 24 percent to 32 percent, and that of refrigerators rose from 14.4 percent to 34 percent. Sales of goods in rural areas included one-third of the clocks and watches, almost half of the motorcycles and motor scooters, 31 percent of the passenger cars, 55 percent of the bicycles and mopeds, and 37 percent of the sewing machines. Since rural dwellers make up approximately 37 percent of the USSR’s population and purchase a large portion of their consumer goods in cities, one may assume that rural dwellers in the 1970’s bought, per capita, such products in no smaller quantities than did urban dwellers. This situation is a result of the party’s long-time policy of accelerating the growth of the rural standard of living.

Table 14. Income and expenditures of a kolkhoz worker’s family (percent)
Aggregate family income ...............100100100
Income from kolkhoz ...............39.739.643.9
Wages of family members ...............
Pensions, stipends, and other payments and benefits from social consumption funds (including free education and medical treatment) ...............4.914.619.5
Income from smallholdings ...............48.336.525.3
Income from other sources ...............
Expenditure of aggregate income ...............100100100
Food ...............67.345.235.9
Fabrics, clothing, and footwear ...............10.913.716.5
Furniture and other goods for cultural and domestic use ...............
Building materials ...............
Fuel ...............
Cultural and domestic services ...............4.814.015.0
education, medical treatment, and other free services provided by social consumption funds ...............3.410.010.5
Accumulations (increase of ready cash, savings, deposits, etc.) ...............
Taxes ...............
Miscellaneous expenditures ...............4.18.913.7

Family budgets. Tables 13 and 14 provide an objective picture of the changes that have occurred in the population’s income and expenditures as a result of the growth of the standard of living. The tables are based on samples of industrial worker and kolkhoz worker families studied by the Central Statistical Board of the USSR.

Analysis of the industrial worker’s family income demonstrates that wages and social consumption funds are now practically the only sources of income. There has been a reduction in the share of expenditures for food and an increase in purchases of nonfood products: fabrics, clothing, footwear, and, especially, furniture and other goods for cultural or domestic use. This fact reflects the increased level of monetary incomes in industrial workers’ families and the rise in their material standard of living.

Similar changes have occurred in the income and expenditures of kolkhoz families. These families have also shown a rapid increase in the proportion of income from social consumption funds, primarily owing to the growth in pension levels as a result of measures taken in the period 1965 to 1974 dealing with state pension insurance for kolkhoz workers. These changes were accompanied by a reduction in the proportion of incomes from smallholdings. In 1940 the families of kolkhoz workers received almost half of their incomes from household plots; by 1977 the fraction had fallen to only one-fourth. Between 1940 and 1977 expenditures by the families of kolkhoz workers on the purchase of fabrics, clothing, and footwear rose by a factor of 1.5, and expenditures on furniture and other goods for cultural and domestic use grew almost fivefold; free services, for example, free education and medical treatment, increased by a factor of 3.5.

Day-to-day expenditures by working people on food products, nonfood products, and services do not completely exhaust their monetary incomes. As a result, savings deposits are growing rapidly. The working people put away savings for expensive durable goods and for rest and recreation, for example, vacations (see Table 15).

Table 15. Savings accounts (end of year)
Number of accounts (millions) ...............17.357.480.1142.1
Total amount in accounts (billion rubles) ...............0.718.746.6156.5
Size of average account (rubles) ...............423265811,102
in urban areas ...............503325781,073
in rural areas ...............263095911,189

Housing construction. The improvement of the Soviet people’s housing conditions has played an important part in raising the standard of living. Of the 3.58 billion sq m of total (usable) dwelling space built between 1918 and 1980, 1.6 billion sq m was built between 1966 and 1980. Table 16 provides information on the scope of housing construction.

As a result of expanded housing construction, Soviet cities and villages have visually changed, and the daily life of the working people has improved. During the years of Soviet power, housing resources in cities and urban-type settlements have increased nearly 12-fold—from 180 million sq m of total space in 1913 to 2.2 billion sq m in 1980. Each urban resident has 13 sq m of total dwelling space. Every year one-third of the total new dwelling space is accounted for by rural areas. As the kolkhoz economy becomes stronger, the role of public funds in rural housing construction increases.

The apartment houses that have been built or are under construction are well provided with amenities. Between 1965 and 1980 the number of apartments supplied with gas increased more than fivefold—from 10,400,000 to 55,200,000.

Beginning in the 1970’s, buildings have been constructed with improved floor plans, larger rooms, and higher ceilings. The distribution of new housing is proceeding in accordance with the principle of one family per apartment; in the 1950’s, by contrast, only 30 percent of new householders received separate apartments. Between 1956 and 1977, 49,623,000 apartments were built, with a total area of 2.242 billion sq km. Some 240.7 million persons obtained new apartments or improved their housing conditions. Such a scope of housing construction has no precedent in history. While the supply of housing has expanded, rents have remained low. Since 1928 rents have been practically constant,

Table 16. Apartment house construction and occupancy
 Apartments builtPersons obtaining housing space or building own apartments (million persons)
Number (thousands)Total (usable) dwelling space (million sq m)
1950 ...............1,07340.45.3
Fifth five-year plan (1951–55) ...............6,052240.530.6
Sixth five-year plan (1956–60) ...............11,292474.154.0
Seventh five-year plan (1961–65) ...............11,551490.654.6
Eighth five-year plan (1966–70) ...............11,333518.554.9
Ninth five-year plan (1971–75) ...............11,224544.856.1
Tenth five-year plan (1976–80) ...............10,241527.351.0

even though the quality of apartment houses has substantially improved and the population’s income has risen considerably.

Conclusion. Taking into consideration the great achievements made in satisfying the working people’s needs for food, clothing, and housing, a program is being carried out for the development and satisfaction of the intellectual needs of all members of society. Advancements are being made in education, culture, and art, as well as physical culture and public health. The working people are assisted in making rational use of their free time and full use of their rest and leisure. More social activities are being organized for people working at various enterprises and other organizations.

In addition, measures are being taken to create healthful working conditions conducive to raising productivity. They include reducing manual labor, improving safety equipment and labor protection, and mechanizing and automating laborious and auxiliary functions, which generally require no job skill and pay little. These measures are facilitating the gradual transformation of labor into a basic and vital human need.



V. I. Lenin, KPSS o povyshenii zhiznennogo urovnia trudiashchikhsia: Dokumenty i materialy. Moscow, 1975.
Lenin, V. I. O kul’turnoi revoliutsii, 2nd ed. (collection). Moscow, 1971.
Lenin, V. I. O nauke i vysshem obrazovanii (collection). Moscow, 1971.
Sarkisian, G. S. Uroven’, tempy i proportsii rosta real’nykh dokhodov pri sotsializme. Moscow, 1972.
Zabota partii i pravitel’stva o blage naroda: Sbornik dokumentov (oktiabr’ 1964–1973). Moscow, 1973.
Levin, B. M. Sotsial’no-ekonomicheskie potrebnosti: Zakonomernosti formirovaniia i razvitiia. Moscow, 1974.
Kapustin, E. I. Rost blagosostoianiia sovetskogo narodavysshaia tsel’ ekonomicheskoi politiki KPSS. Moscow, 1974.
Sharutin, S. V. Rost blagosostoianiia trudiashchikhsia i zarabotnaia plata. Leningrad, 1975.

Demographic processes in the USSR follow a favorable course owing to the development of the economy and culture and to the constant concern of the Soviet state for the well-being and health of the population. Between 1913 and 1978 the population of the country increased by more than 100 million. The growth of the urban population reflects changes in the structure of production—in particular, the development of industry and the mechanization of agriculture. Women outnumber men: as of Jan. 1, 1978, there were 139 million women in the population and only 121 million men. This disproportion reflects an imbalance, caused by the war, in the older segment of the population and is gradually lessening.

The birthrate in the USSR is lower than it was in prerevolutionary Russia, as is the death rate; indexes of natural increase have remained high. Between 1913 and 1977 the birthrate dropped from 45.5 per 1,000 inhabitants to 18.1. This decrease is due in part to the increase in the number of persons in the older age groups. An additional noteworthy factor has been the increasing role of women in the production sphere. The decline in the birthrate was particularly marked during the 1960’s owing to the war, since the birthrate between 1940 and 1946 was extremely low. Over a period beginning in 1970, as the postwar generation reached childbearing age, the birthrate stabilized and began gradually rising.

The crude death rate in the USSR during the years of Soviet power has declined by a factor of more than 3 (9.6 per 1,000 inhabitants in 1977, as compared to 29.1 in 1913), and infant mortality has decreased by a factor of almost 10 (27.9 per 1,000 live births in 1974, as compared to 268.6 in 1913). The 1970’s saw a slight increase in the crude death rate, partially as a result of the changing age structure of the population. This fact may be better understood by comparing the overall death rate with the death rates for individual age groups. As a result of the general decline in the death rate in the USSR, the average life-span has increased considerably since the prerevolutionary period: between 1896–97 and 1971–72 it rose from 32 years to 70.

The improvement of living conditions and measures taken by the Soviet state to safeguard the health of children has resulted in a steady rise in the level of physical development of the members of all strata of the USSR’s population. As early as the 1930’s there was no difference in level of physical development between children and young people from families of industrial workers and those from families of nonindustrial workers. As a result of government measures to eliminate health problems resulting from the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45, by 1956 the indicators of physical development were higher than before the war.

Organization. The first information on the organization of aid to the sick in Kievan Rus’ consists of references to the establishment of asylums for the sick and disabled at monasteries and churches in the tenth and 11th centuries. The first state administrative body for medical affairs was the Aptekarskaia Palata (Pharmaceutical Chamber), which was subsequently renamed the Aptekarskii Prikaz (Pharmaceutical Department). The Aptekarskaia Palata was established in 1581 at the same time as the first (“tsar’s”) pharmacy. In 1592 the first border station for preventing the importation of infectious diseases was established.

During the 18th century public health problems came under the jurisdiction of the Medical Chancellery, and from 1763 they were handled by the Medical Collegium. In 1775 prikazy obshchestvennogo prizreniia (central administrative offices for community service) were established in the provinces; their purview extended to philanthropic and medical institutions. Medical boards were subsequently established in the provincial capitals, with the exception of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and district medical boards—local bodies for administering medical affairs—were instituted. In 1803 the Medical Collegium was replaced by the Medical Department, which was part of the Ministry of the Interior. Beginning in the late 19th century, zemstvo medicine (medical services provided by bodies of local self-government known as zemstvos) and industrial medicine developed.

Each government agency in prerevolutionary Russia had its own medical units. There was no single state body for public health administration. Hospitals, outpatient clinics (ambulatorii), and other institutions for treatment were opened by various agencies and by private individuals; they were not able, however, to provide aid to all who needed it. Medical care was rendered mainly by private practitioners. Inhabitants of outlying regions had virtually no access to medical services. Prerevolutionary Russia lacked a state system of health protection.

The public health system of the USSR is one of the most outstanding achievements of the Soviet people. The tasks of the state in providing health care were defined by V. I. Lenin and were reflected in the first party program, adopted by the RSDLP in 1903. The program called for the institution of an eight-hour workday, the prohibition of child labor, the establishment of crèches at enterprises, the introduction of state insurance for workers, and the institution of public health inspections at enterprises.

Since the very first days of Soviet power, the protection of the health of the working people has been proclaimed an extremely important task of the socialist state. The world’s first state public health system was established at a time of economic dislocation, epidemics, and struggle against domestic and foreign enemies. It was based on the most progressive and humanitarian principles: the total accessibility of free medical care, the development of preventive medicine, and the involvement of the masses of the working people in the resolution of health care issues.

The Soviet state’s public health policy was formulated in the second party program, adopted at the Eighth Congress of the RCP(B) in 1919. High-priority tasks included the establishment of healthful conditions in populated areas, the protection of the soil, water, and air, the development of the food service industry in accordance with high public health standards, the enactment of public health legislation, and the guaranteed assurance of competent and totally accessible medical care that is free of charge.

Annual expenditures for public health and physical culture during the first five-year plan (1929–32) were almost four times the figure for 1913. Between 1913 and 1940, the number of physicians increased almost sixfold, and that of secondary medical personnel more than tenfold; the number of beds increased by a factor of 3.8 (see Tables 1 and 2).

During the Great Patriotic War the public health system concentrated its efforts on the treatment of sick and wounded soldiers and the prevention of epidemics among the army in the field and among the people in the rear. The work of medical institutions facilitated the Soviet people’s victory over fascism. More than 72 percent of the wounded and 90 percent of the sick returned to active duty. For the first time in the history of warfare, the army and areas in the rear were successfully protected against epidemics. The war brought enormous damage to the Soviet public health system, amounting to 6.6 billion rubles. Approximately 40,000 hospitals, polyclinics, and other medical institutions were destroyed.

The mobilization of the country’s economic potential and the heroic work of Soviet people contributed to the rapid restoration of the material basis of the public health system. In 1947 the principal public health indicators reached their prewar levels. Between 1940 and 1950 the number of physicians and secondary medical personnel increased by 71 and 52 percent, respectively, and the number of hospital beds grew by 28 percent. Between 1940 and 1977 the state budget’s allocations for public health and physical culture increased more than 13-fold.

The basic principles of the Soviet public health system were developed further in the party program adopted at the Twenty-second Congress of the CPSU in 1961. Problems of public health and medicine were dealt with in a number of decrees of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Soviet government. For example, the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR issued on Jan. 14, 1960, the decree On Measures to Improve Medical Services and Health Care for the Population of the USSR and on July 5,1968, the decree On Measures to Improve the Public Health System and Develop Medical Science in the Country.

The ratification by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR in 1969 of the Basic Principles of Health Legislation of the USSR and the Union Republics reinforced the principles and forms of the medical aid provided the population, including total accessibility of free medical care, training of skilled personnel, development of preventive medicine, provision of health care for mothers and children, and maintenance of the public health epidemiologic service. It was emphasized that the protection of the health of the population is an obligation of all state bodies and public organizations. Among the measures specified in the Basic Principles for improving the public health system are construction of large-scale specialized and general hospitals, polyclinics, and dispensaries in order to provide better and more complete medical care; expansion of the network of emergency medical care stations and public health epidemiologic stations; and increasing the number of hospital beds. Table 3 provides figures on the development of the Soviet public health system between 1940 and 1977.

A recent example of the concern of the CPSU and the Soviet government for the health of the people is the decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR On Measures to Improve the National Public Health System. Issued on Sept. 22, 1977, the decree represents a step forward in the implementation of the decisions of the Twenty-fifth Congress of the CPSU. It sets forth a comprehensive program of measures for improving the health care provided the Soviet people.

Morbidity. Prerevolutionary Russia suffered more than any other country in Europe from the spread of infectious diseases among the population. There were constant epidemics of such diseases as smallpox, cholera, plague, intestinal infections, epidemic typhus, relapsing fever, and malaria; they caused serious harm to the health of the people and to the economy. In 1912 some 13 million persons suffered from infectious diseases. The principal cause of the high rate of infant mortality was childhood infections. Sanitary conditions were extremely poor. Housing and living conditions were unsatisfactory, and the level of the population’s knowledge of hygiene was low. Because only 23 cities had sewer systems, most of the population used bacteriologically unsuitable drinking water.

Table 1. Number of hospitals and hospital beds in prerevolutionary Russia and the USSR
 HospitalsHospital beds (thousands)Hospital beds per 10,000 inhabitants
USSR ...............5,30013,79323,107207.6790.93,324.213.040.2124.9
RSFSR ...............3,1498,47712,472133.4482.01,801.914.843.3129.6
Ukrainian SSR ...............1,4382,4983,84347.7157.6627.113.637.7125.4
Byelorussian SSR ...............2405148736.429.6120.89.332.6125.2
Uzbek SSR ...............633801,1531.020.3182.82.330.1113.1
Kazakh SSR ...............986271,6951.825.4195.83.239.5130.1
Georgian SSR ...............413144592.113.354.18.036.0107.1
Azerbaijan SSR ...............432227561.112.660.04.837.896.8
Lithuanian SSR ...............44772042.28.941.27.730.0119.8
Moldavian SSR ...............681093372.
Latvian SSR ...............50891836.212.034.524.963.0136.8
Kirghiz SSR ...............61122650.13.843.71.224.1119.7
Tadzhik SSR ...............11212810.044.539.60.428.698.8
Armenian SSR ...............6961710.
Turkmen SSR ...............13992700.35.630.32.741.6104.5
Estonian SSR ...............40581452.55.118.426.247.7124.1
Table 2. Number of physicians and secondary personnel in prerevolutionary Russia and the USSR
 Physicians, all specializations (thousands)Physicians per 10,000 inhabitantsSecondary medical personnel (thousands)Secondary medical personnel per 10,000 inhabitants
USSR ...............28.1155.3995.61.87.937.446.0472.02,789.92.924.0104.8
RSFSR ...............15.990.8559.,560.62.926.1112.3
Ukrainian SSR ...............7.935.3182.52.28.436.512.4100.8511.13.524.1102.2
Byelorussian SSR ...............
Uzbek SSR ...............
Kazakh SSR ...............0.242.747.80.44.331.70.412.0150.10.718.699.7
Georgian SSR ...............0.464.923.61.813.346.70.79.455.52.625.6109.8
Azerbaijan SSR ...............0.353.320.71.510.033.40.457.551.51.922.583.1
Lithuanian SSR ...............0.422.
MoldavianSSR ...............
Latvian SSR ...............0.642.511.12.613.
Kirghiz SSR ...............0.020.610.60.23.829.10.032.631.50.316.186.3
Tadzhik SSR ...............
Armenian SSR ...............
Turkmen SSR ...............
Estonian SSR ...............0.531.16.25.610.

World War I and the Civil War and Military Intervention of 1918–20 created extremely grave sanitary and epidemiologic conditions. According to incomplete data, approximately 20 million persons suffered from epidemic typhus between 1917 and 1922, and about 10 million suffered from relapsing fever between 1919 and 1923. In 1918 and 1919 approximately 65,000 cases of cholera were registered. In 1919 a smallpox epidemic became imminent, and morbidity from malaria and other infections increased. The control of infectious diseases was thus regarded as one of the most urgent problems faced by the Soviet state’s domestic policy.

Public health epidemiologic measures were taken, efforts were made to improve housing and living conditions, and populated places were provided with amenities. As a result, morbidity from infectious diseases was sharply reduced in a short period of time, and particularly dangerous infections were eliminated. As early as 1922 epidemic typhus morbidity was less than half the figure for 1919; between 1919 and 1927 it declined by a factor of 89. After 1927 the disease occurred only sporadically, although more frequent outbreaks were noted during the period 1942 to 1945, mainly on territories liberated after temporary fascist German occupation. The morbidity for louse-borne relapsing fever was reduced by a factor of more than 100 by 1927 and practically eliminated by 1938.

On Apr. 10, 1919, Lenin signed a decree of the Council of People’s Commissars providing for compulsory inoculation. As a result of mass immunization, smallpox was completely eliminated in the USSR by 1936–37.

In prerevolutionary Russia, 5–7 million cases of malaria were registered every year. In 1920 the Central Institute of Protozoic Diseases was organized, and in 1921 the Central Malaria Commission was founded as part of the People’s Commissariat of Public Health to direct a scientifically grounded program for eliminating malaria in the USSR. By 1930 morbidity had been reduced to less than one-third of the prerevolutionary level. Since 1963 malaria has not been registered as a widespread disease in the country.

Considerable achievements have also been made in controlling other infectious diseases. Between 1913 and 1971 anthrax morbidity dropped by a factor of 45, typhoid fever morbidity and paratyphoid morbidity decreased by a factor of almost 40, and whooping cough morbidity dropped by a factor of 53 (1975 figure). Diphtheria, polio, and tularemia have become rare.

Since the 1950’s the structure of morbidity and causes of death in the USSR has been typical for economically developed countries. The more frequent occurrence of cardiovascular diseases and malignant tumors is characteristic of a population whose average age is increasing. Medical advances have helped prolong the lives of patients with cardiovascular diseases, and as a result the number of such patients has increased. The improvement of diagnostic techniques has revealed cases of diseases that earlier might have gone undetected.

The most widespread diseases are atherosclerosis, hyptertension, ischemie heart disease, and rheumatism. Among infectious diseases there is a predominance of influenza and other respiratory infections, which are one of the basic causes of temporary disability. Intestinal infections, particularly dysentery, as a rule do not reach epidemic proportions. Infectious diseases of the respiratory and gastrointestinal systems are seasonal in nature. Notable among childhood infections are measles, scarlet fever, whooping cough, and epidemic parotitis. The number of cases of disease is falling.

The most common injuries are those not linked with production. Many accidents result from a state of intoxication.

Medical personnel. In 1913, Russia had 28,100 physicians, most of whom lived in the large cities. There was one physician for every 5,664 persons. As a result of the uneven distribution of physicians, many regions lacked medical assistance. In what is now the Tadzhik SSR and the Kirghiz SSR, there was one physician for every 50,000 inhabitants. There was one physician for every 31,000 inhabitants of what is now the Uzbek SSR and one for every 23,000 inhabitants of what is now the Kazakh SSR. Between 1913 and 1977 the total number of physicians increased by a factor of 32, and the number of physicians per 10,000 inhabitants grew by a factor of 19 (see Table 2). The USSR ranks first in the world in number of physicians and in the ratio of physicians to population.

Most inhabitants of prerevolutionary Russia had no access to specialized care from physicians, since it was available only in large cities. Between 1940 and 1975 the number of internists and physicians specializing in public health and epidemic control grew more than fourfold, the number of surgeons increased by a factor of 6.9, the number of obstetricians, gynecologists, pediatricians, and ophthalmologists rose almost fivefold, the number of neuropathologists grew almost sevenfold, and the number of X-ray technicians and radiologists increased more than tenfold. The number of specialists per 10,000 inhabitants in most of the Union republics has reached the national level.

In 1913, Russia had 46,000 secondary medical personnel, including feldshers of army companies and midwives. By 1976 the number of secondary medical personnel had grown by a factor of 57 (see Table 2). The availability of secondary medical personnel is greater in some Union republics, for example, the Estonian SSR, than in the country as a whole.

The USSR produces more physicians, pharmacists, and secondary medical personnel than any other country. In prerevolutionary Russia, 17 university medical faculties and medical institutes graduated 900 physicians annually. By 1975 the number of medical students had risen 36-fold, and the number of physicians graduated, more than 50-fold. Every Union republic has higher and secondary medical educational institutions, which as a group train enough specialists to meet the needs of the population. The country’s medical educational institutions have students of more than 100 nationalities. A network of institutes and departments has been created to provide advanced training for physicians; in 1974 there were 13 such institutes and 18 departments. Physicians take refresher courses or advanced training at least once every three to five years.

Public health epidemiologic service. In the years 1913 and 1914 public health organizations were located in 73 cities and 40 provinces in Russia. A total of 257 physicians were affiliated with them. There were 28 public health laboratories. Zemstvo public health offices mainly did statistical work.

Table 3. Development of the Soviet public health system
1In addition to allocations from the state budget, outlays are counted from state, cooperative, trade union, and other organizations, as well as individual enterprises and kolkhozes
2The decrease in the number of outpatient clinics and polyclinics is due to mergers with hospitals and to reorganization and amalgamation
Expenditures on public health and physical culture (from state budget and other sources, billion rubles)1 ...............1.116.0
Physicians in all specializations (thousands) ...............155.3896.5
Physicians per 10,000 inhabitants ...............7.934.5
Secondary medical personnel (thousands) ...............472.02,624.4
Secondary medical personnel per 10,000 inhabitants ...............24.0100.9
Higher medical educational institutions, including university departments ...............7291
Students enrolled in higher medical educational institutions (thousands) ...............107.6327.8
Physicians graduated (thousands) ...............16.949.4
Secondary medical educational institutions ...............619
Students enrolled in secondary medical educational institutions (thousands) ...............405.9
Secondary personnel graduated (thousands) ...............132.8
Hospitals ...............13,79323,672
Hospital beds (thousands) ...............790.93,140.4
Hospital beds per 10,000 inhabitants ...............40.2120.8
Outpatient clinics and polyclinics (thousands) ...............36.835.62
Specialized dispensaries ...............1,2843,046
Emergency medical care stations in the system of the Ministry of Health of the USSR (independent and under treatment and preventive institutions) ...............4,131
Public health epidemiologic stations ...............1,9434,824
Beds for pregnant women and puerperae (thousands) ...............113.5224.3
Women’s consultation clinics (thousands) ...............4.510.2
Children’s polyclinics and outpatient clinics (thousands) ...............4.112.3
Beds for children in hospitals (thousands) ...............89.7549.9
Children enrolled in permanent children’s preschool institutions (thousands) ...............1,95312,672
children enrolled in crèches (thousands) ...............781979
Beds in sanatoriums (thousands) ...............240517
beds in sanatoriums for children (thousands) ...............95164
Pharmacies and stores selling articles for public health and hygiene within the system of the Central Pharmaceutical Board ...............11,11125,914
Pharmacists with higher education (thousands) ...............9.568.3
Pharmacists with secondary education (thousands) ...............36.2150.2

In the USSR a unified state public health epidemiologic service has been created. As early as 1918 a public health epidemiologic division was established in the People’s Commissariat of Public Health, and public health epidemiologic subdepartments were organized within the public health departments of the executive committees of the local soviets beginning in 1919. The decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR On Bodies of Public Health of the Republic (1922) established a unified organization for matters of public health and defined the tasks, rights, and obligations of public health bodies.

The rapid development of the public health epidemiologic system necessitated training skilled personnel and expanding the network of specialized institutions. In 1936 the first departments of public health were opened in medical institutes.

In 1939 a statute was approved providing for public health epidemiologic stations as leading integrated institutions of the public health epidemiologic service. By 1940 the public health epidemiologic system included more than 12,500 physicians, 1,943 public health epidemiologic stations, 1,490 public health bacteriological laboratories, and 787 disinfection stations, units, and teams (see Table 3).

As the setbacks caused by the Great Patriotic War were overcome and the national economy developed, public health agencies took on new tasks and underwent reorganization. Beginning in 1948 all regional public health agencies, on the republic, krai, oblast, city, and raion levels, were required to organize public health epidemiologic stations. In 1963 the Council of Ministers of the USSR issued the decree On State Health Inspection in the USSR. The Basic Principles of Health Legislation of the USSR and the Union Republics (1969) and the Statute on the State Health Inspection in the USSR (1973) grant extensive powers to the public health epidemiologic service with regard to environmental protection and oversight of industry, construction, food service facilities, water supply, public services, and the planning of populated areas.

In the USSR industrial enterprises are prohibited from beginning operations if sewage treatment facilities have not been provided. Maximum permissible concentrations for all environmental pollutants have been set forth in standards and regulations. The construction of any facility and the planning of populated places are carried out in observance of public health standards and regulations. The directives of a health officer are mandatory for all state and public bodies, institutions, and individual citizens. The public health service organizes preventive inoculations and takes other measures to combat the outbreak and spread of infectious diseases. It has the power to declare quarantines and take other measures to protect the health of the population.

Of particular importance is the decree of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR On Measures for the Further Improvement of the Conservation of Nature and for the Rational Use of Natural Resources. Issued by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on Sept. 20, 1972, it expanded the authority of the public health epidemiologic service in environmental protection. In particular, the decree increased the responsibility of ministries, agencies, enterprises, and organizations in the implementation of measures against soil, water, and air pollution and for the unconditional observance of public health and hygiene standards and regulations. It called for the implementation of preventive measures regarding pollution from noxious fumes and sewage, for the timely construction of sewage treatment plants, and for the development and use in industry of new equipment for gas purification and dust collection. The decree also provided for the accelerated construction and modernization of facilities for industrial and residential sewage treatment, gas purification, and dust collection. Projects for planting greenery in cities were to be expanded as well.

Hospitals. In prerevolutionary Russia more than a third of the cities had no hospitals; 26 percent of the hospitals had five or fewer beds, 53 percent had from six to 20 beds, and only 21 percent had more than 20 beds. After the October Revolution of 1917 the hospital system was essentially created anew. Between 1913 and 1977 the number of hospitals increased almost fourfold, the number of beds grew by a factor of more than 15, and the number of beds per 10,000 inhabitants increased more than ninefold. The growth rates of these indicators in several Union republics have exceeded those for the country as a whole (see Table 1). There has been a substantial increase in the number of beds in autonomous republics and national okrugs.

As beds increased in number, more of them were designated for specific illnesses. Beds not designated for particular types of patients are declining in number. Between 1940 and 1977 the proportion of such beds dropped from more than 15 percent to only 2.3 percent. Further specialization is based on the organization of specialized treatment and preventive institutions and the construction of large general hospitals with highly specialized divisions. Table 4 provides figures on specialization in institutions of the Ministry of Public Health of the USSR.

An important requirement in organizing skilled specialized medical care is an increase in the capacity of treatment institutions. The proportion of the republic, krai, and oblast hospitals having more than 500 beds rose from 26.9 percent in 1960 to 54.7 percent in 1977. City hospitals with a capacity of more than 300 beds increased from 7.5 percent to 21.2 percent. Rural raion hospitals with a capacity of more than 100 beds grew from 4 percent to 58.2 percent.

The amalgamation and specialization of hospitals have facilitated the efficient use of beds, medical personnel, and equipment, along with a considerable improvement in the quality of medical care. Most republic, krai, and oblast hospitals, as well as many city hospitals, now have intensive-care wards and resuscitation units. As a result, it is now possible to provide effective care to the seriously ill. In hospitals without such specialized facilities such care is practically impossible.

Table 4. Surgical beds in institutions of the Ministry of Public Health of the USSR (1973)
 Surgical beds (thousands)Percent of total number of surgical beds
Total surgical beds ...............395.3100
Beds in specialized institutions and divisions of general medical institutions  
trauma ...............69.817.6
urological ...............27.57.0
neurosurgical ...............11.52.9
orthopedic ...............10.12.7
stomatological ...............7.01.8
thoracic surgery ...............5.71.4
cardiovascular surgery ...............4.21.1
burns ...............3.91.0

Outpatient clinics and polyclinics. An extensive network of polyclinics and dispensaries providing free, specialized, skilled medical care is a distinguishing trait of the Soviet public health system. In 1913 large cities had 1,230 outpatient units and treatment facilities for first aid. By 1977 the number of outpatient clinics and polyclinics had grown to 35,624. The amount of medical care provided by outpatient clinics and polyclinics increases each year. The volume of outpatient care and of treatment through visits to the home almost quadrupled between 1940 and 1977, and the number of house calls per capita in urban areas increased by almost 50 percent between 1955 and 1977. The system of outpatient polyclinic care is based on the medical district. Between 1965 and 1973 the number of medical districts in urban areas more than doubled. In 1955 each district with an internist encompassed an average of 3,900 persons; in 1972 there were five district internists per 10,000 urban dwellers. There has been an increase in the number of medical assistance and obstetrics units at industrial enterprises and in rural areas.

An important role in the development of the national economy is played by measures designed to protect labor, create healthful working conditions, and organize medical and sanitary sections at industrial enterprises, as well as physicians’ and feldsher public health stations. Between 1950 and 1977 medical stations at enterprises and institutions more than tripled in number. This category includes medical and sanitary sections at industrial enterprises and public health stations; the former almost doubled in number, and the latter almost tripled.

Soviet health care is characterized by the dispensary method of service in cities as well as in the rural areas. The number of specialized dispensaries (including those for medical treatment and physical culture) grew from 1,284 to 3,046 between 1940 and 1977 (see Table 3). The dispensary method of providing services to ill and healthy persons is also employed by all outpatient clinics and polyclinics at places of residence and at industrial enterprises. Dispensary supervision is provided to patients suffering from chronic cardiovascular and gastrointestinal diseases, tuberculosis, malignant tumors, and other serious conditions. Preventive examinations, including annual checkups for early detection, are given on an increasing scale. Between 1965 and 1977, for example, examinations for tuberculosis detection increased by a factor of 1.8, and examinations for the detection of malignant tumors increased by a factor of 1.6. Treatment and preventive institutions and specialized medical and physical-culture dispensaries provide services to athletes.

In prerevolutionary Russia only nine cities had facilities that could be called emergency medical care stations. The USSR has created a network of urban and raion emergency medical care stations, which numbered 4,131 in 1977. They have special-purpose vehicles equipped, for example, to carry out blood transfusions, perform artificial respiration, and obtain electrocardiograms. Quick diagnoses can thus be made, and emergency aid rendered, in such life-threatening situations as myocardial infarction, shock, pulmonary edema, and poisoning. Aviation public health stations are staffed by specialists from scientific research institutes and departments of higher medical educational institutions.

Sanatoriums and health resorts. Prerevolutionary Russia had 60 sanatoriums, with a total capacity of 3,000. Treatment was virtually unavailable to working people. After the October Revolution of 1917, the newly nationalized health resorts were placed at the service of the working people. New health resorts were built. The number of sanatoriums with sleeping facilities increased by a factor of 39 between 1913 and 1977, and the total number of beds increased by a factor of 172. The USSR has health resorts of all major types. Notable balneological resorts are located in the Caucasian Mineral Waters Region, Borzhomi, Belokurikha, Druskininkai, and Truskavets. Peloid resorts are found at, for example, Odessa, Evpatoriia, and Saki, and climatic resorts are located in such areas as the Southern Coast of the Crimea, the Black Sea Coast of the Caucasus, and the seaside area near Riga. As of Jan. 1, 1978, the country had 2,332 sanatoriums and therapy boarding hotels, with 517,000 beds, as well as 6,780 houses of rest, centers of rest, and boarding hotels, with 944,000 beds. Many sanatoriums have been converted into large specialized treatment and preventive institutions. Passes to the sanatoriums are distributed by occupational organizations, while indications for therapy are determined by treatment and preventive institutions. Social insurance subsidizes more than 50 percent of the passes. The industrial or nonindustrial worker receiving such a pass may pay 30 percent of the total cost or nothing at all; in the latter case the expense is borne by the public health budget.

Medical and preventive care for women and children. The Soviet state has always considered it important to devote special attention to mothers and children and to enable women to combine production work and public activity with motherhood and the rearing of children. Special laws provide labor safeguards for women, especially during pregnancy. Soviet labor legislation states that pregnant women must not be requested to work overtime or at night. When necessary, pregnant women are assigned lighter duties. Women are granted paid maternity leave amounting to 112 calendar days (56 days before and after giving birth). In cases of multiple births or complications, the part of the leave following childbirth is increased to 70 days. The state budget provides allocations for maternity benefits. Between 1940 and 1977 these outlays increased by a factor of 14.5. Allocations to crèches and kindergartens and to Pioneer camps and other institutions sponsoring extracurricular activities increased by a factor of 14.7.

In prerevolutionary Russia, 7,500 beds were designated for pregnant women and puerperae. In 1913 only 5 percent of births took place in medical facilities. Assistance at childbirth was rendered primarily by midwives. During the years of Soviet power a network of women’s consultation clinics was set up, along with maternity homes and obstetric and gynecological sections in hospitals. Rural areas have a network of kolkhoz maternity homes and medical assistance and obstetrics stations. The problem of providing all women with obstetric care at medical facilities has been solved. Between 1940 and 1977 the number of beds for pregnant women and puerperae increased from 113,500 to 224,000. In many cities special divisions have been organized to treat complications arising during pregnancy. The provision by women’s consultation clinics of prenatal observation and home nursing services to pregnant women and the availability of high-quality medical care to puerperae have substantially reduced deaths among women in labor, stillbirths, and infant mortality.

The number of obstetricians and gynecologists and the number of beds for pregnant women, puerperae, and gynecological patients have increased in all the Union republics, as has the number of women’s consultation clinics and children’s polyclinics. Between 1940 and 1977 the number of beds for gynecological patients increased from 634 to 5,308 in the Uzbek SSR, from 546 to 8,538 in the Kazakh SSR, and from 272 to 1,729 in the Latvian SSR.

The Soviet state has shown particular concern for the health and upbringing of children. Medical treatment and preventive care is provided to children at hospitals, polyclinics, children’s divisions of general hospitals, sanatoriums, crèche-kindergartens, and school hygiene departments at public health epidemiologic stations.

Between 1913 and 1977 the number of beds for children in hospitals increased from 750 to 560,000, and the number of children in permanent children’s institutions rose from 5,400 to 12,672,000.

Children’s outpatient clinics and polyclinics play an especially important role in the provision of medical care to children. The world’s first system of dispensary care for children was introduced in the USSR; such care is administered by pediatricians and visiting nurses. Specialized pediatrie care has developed intensively. Divisions of surgery, neuropathology, and psychiatry have been organized in children’s hospitals and polyclinics. Between 1913 and 1977 the number of children’s sanatoriums grew from 14 to 1,204, increasing by a factor of 86. Over the same period the number of beds in them increased by a factor of 540; the beds in children’s sanatoriums amount to 32 percent of all sanatorium beds. The number of children’s preschool institutions is growing in all the Union republics. The health services provided children are undergoing increasing differentiation. Crèches are being established with an extended workday or with round-the-clock service, and methods of sanitation and upbringing are being improved.

Pharmacies. In prerevolutionary Russia pharmacies were privately owned. Cities had one pharmacy for every 10,800 inhabitants, and rural areas, within the present-day boundaries of the European USSR, had one for every 119,500 inhabitants. In Middle Asia there was one pharmacy for every 436,400 inhabitants. Between 1914 and 1977 pharmacies grew in number from 4,932 to 26,098, increasing fivefold. The pharmacy network of each Union republic satisfies the needs of the population. In sparsely settled regions, pharmaceutical stations are organized at medical stations and medical assistance and obstetrics stations. Between 1914 and 1973 the amount of medicine given out by pharmacies increased more than 50-fold. Pharmacies are staffed by skilled specialists with a higher or specialized secondary education. The number of such specialists increased more than 16-fold between 1914 and 1973.

International cooperation. The USSR’s experience in health care has influenced public health systems in many countries. The principles of the Soviet public health system have been adopted by other socialist countries.

The USSR is a charter member of the World Health Organization (WHO). More than 150 Soviet scientists serve on WHO’s expert committees. Many Soviet specialists are employed at WHO’s headquarters and its regional offices. The Ministry of Public Health of the USSR, the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR, and Soviet medical societies take part in the work of many international medical associations.

The USSR renders aid to the developing countries in building hospitals, creating national pharmaceutical industries, implementing measures on combating infectious diseases, and training physicians. For example, the USSR built a large hospital in Guinea, which it gave as a gift to the country. Other facilities built with the aid of the USSR include pharmaceutical plants in Iraq and an antiobiotics plant and plants for the production of synthetic medicines and surgical instruments in India.

A great deal of aid has been rendered to the developing countries to train medical personnel. Students from such countries study at the USSR’s medical institutes and at the medical department of the Patrice Lumumba Peoples’ Friendship University in Moscow. Foreign specialists are also trained for the pharmaceutical industry. In 1973 more than 2,500 medical students from 100 countries received training in the USSR.

Every year delegations of Soviet physicians take part in international medical congresses and conferences. International congresses on urgent medical problems have been held in the USSR. Between 1966 and 1973 more than 70 international meetings and educational programs took place in the USSR, including seminars, symposia, and courses sponsored by WHO and international congresses of surgeons, gerontologists, and phthisiologists.

Cooperation with the other socialist countries has been particularly fruitful. Specialists are increasing their efforts to share advanced experience in the protection of health, discuss major problems of medical theory and practice, and develop means for improving national public health services. An important role is played by regular conferences of the ministers of public health of the socialist countries. Cooperation among the socialist countries also involves coordination of scientific research, reciprocal aid in the execution of research, extensive information exchange, and joint training programs and joint participation in the work of international organizations.

The USSR has concluded agreements with such countries as the USA, Great Britain, France, Italy, and Finland on cooperation in public health and medicine. The agreements deal with visits of delegations and specialists, the sharing of information, including medical literature, invitations to foreign scientists to work in various scientific institutions and laboratories, invitations to foreign specialists to give lectures, and organization of and participation in international congresses and symposia. They also deal with joint research projects, particularly in environmental protection, cardiovascular diseases and their prevention (including the surgical treatment of diseases of the heart and the main blood vessels), organ and tissue transplants, oncology, and the medical and biological aspects of space exploration.

A great deal of international work is also being done by the Union of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies of the USSR. International cooperation in medicine and public health pursues the most humanitarian goals—the protection of the health of the people of the world and the elimination of the most dangerous and widespread diseases.



Postanovleniia KPSS i Sovetskogo pravitel’stva ob okhrane zdorov’ia naroda. Moscow, 1958.
Potulov, B. M. V. I. Lenin i sovetskoe zdravookhranenie. Moscow, 1964.
Trofimov, V. V. Zdravookhranenie Rossiiskoi Federatsii za 50 let. Moscow, 1967.
Baroian, O. V. Itogi poluvekovoi bor’by s infektsiiami v SSSR i nekotorye aktual’nye voprosy sovremennoi epidemiologii. Moscow, 1968.
Osnovy zakonodatel’stva Soiuza SSR i soiuznykh respublik o zdravookhranenii. Moscow, 1969.
Petrovskii, B. V. Sovetskoe zdravookhranenie za 50 let SSSR. Moscow, 1973.
Petrovskii, B. V. Uspekhi sovetskogo zdravookhraneniia za gody deviatoi piatiletki. Moscow, 1976.
Rukovodstvo po sotsial’noi gigiene i organizatsii zdravookhraneniia, 3rd ed., vols. 1–2. Edited by N. A. Vinogradov. Moscow, 1974.
Serenko, A. F., and G. N. Sobolevskii. Zdravookhranenie sotsialisticheskogo obshchestva. Moscow, 1975.

From earliest times the inhabitants of what is now the USSR engaged in physical exercise, games, and nonteam sports, including the throwing of various objects, swimming, running, archery, wrestling, boxing, and horseback riding. Such activities were cultivated for the physical education of the younger generation and as preparation for labor and for military service.

Beginning in the late 17th century a system of military physical training took shape in the Russian Army. In military schools and at a number of civilian educational institutions, compulsory physical exercise was introduced, including such activities as gymnastics, shooting, and fencing. During the first half of the 19th century schools, clubs, and societies were organized for a number of sports, including yachting, rowing, fencing, swimming, ice skating, and cycling. Such organizations were located in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kiev, and other cities in Russia; among the first were the St. Petersburg and Moscow yacht clubs. Official sports competitions were also held. The sports clubs and other associations were generally established and financed by the bourgeoisie and the nobility (dvorianstvo), and very few students or young people of the working class were allowed to join.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries sports organizations for workers were established in such cities as St. Petersburg, Orekhovo-Zuevo, and Ivanovo. Clubs that were important in the development of Russian sports included the St. Petersburg Circle of Sports Enthusiasts (founded 1889), the Russian Gymnastics Society (1882, Moscow), the St. Petersburg Society of Skating Enthusiasts (1877), and the Amateur Athletics Circle (1885, St. Petersburg). P. F. Lesgaft was the founder of a scientific system of physical education. His Courses for Instructors and Directors of Physical Education for Women, established in St. Petersburg in 1896, served as a prototype for higher educational institutions of physical culture in the USSR and abroad.

In the early 20th century all-Russian leagues were established for various sports, and the first championships were held. In 1913 the first Russian Olympic Games were held in Kiev; approximately 600 athletes, including women, competed. In 1914 the second such games, with more than 1,000 competitors, were held in Riga. The program of the games included track and field, gymnastics, fencing, soccer, tennis, weight lifting, swimming, rowing, yachting, modern pentathlon, shooting, equestrian sports, and cycling.

Russia was among 12 countries represented at the international congress of 1894 in Paris that adopted a resolution to revive the Olympic Games and founded the International Olympic Committee. Russian athletes took part in the Olympic Games of 1908 and 1912. Of the five Russian athletes who competed in 1908, one received a gold medal, and two won silver medals; in 1912, 178 Russians competed, winning two silver and two bronze medals.

In 1914 the country had 1,200 sports associations in 332 cities and villages. The members, totaling approximately 45,000, were for the most part from the privileged classes. Although Russia lagged behind most other countries in the development of sports, individual athletes performed successfully in international competitions, for example, A. N. Panshin, N. I. Sedov, N. V. Strunnikov, and V. A. Ippolitov (speed skating); N. A. Panin-Kolomenkin (figure skating); M. S. Sveshnikov (rowing); I. M. Poddubnyi and I. M. Zaikin (wrestling); P. A. Zakovorot and T. I. Klimov (fencing); and M. I. D’iakov (cycling).

In 1918, after the October Revolution, the physical training of the working people was entrusted to the Main Administration for Universal Military Training, under which the Supreme Council of Physical Culture (VSFK) was established in 1920. In 1923, independent supreme councils were set up under the All-Russian Central Executive Committee and the central executive committees of the Ukrainian SSR, the Byelorussian SSR, the Transcaucasian Federation, and Middle Asia. In 1930 the VSFK was put under the Central Executive Committee of the USSR; it was reorganized in 1936 as the All-Union Committee on Physical Culture and Sports of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR (since 1954 the Committee on Physical Culture and Sports of the Council of Ministers of the USSR).

Physical culture and sports constitute an intrinsic part of Soviet culture and public life. They embrace various measures implemented by state, public, and physical culture and sports organizations aimed at the harmonious development of the physical and intellectual capabilities of the people. Physical culture and sports strengthen the health of the people, increase and extend their creative potential, and prepare them for highly productive labor and the defense of the motherland.

Physical culture and sports fulfill various functions. Besides developing strength, agility, and endurance, they cultivate determination in attaining one’s goal, a sense of collectivism, and emotional control. They also help an individual organize his leisure time, lead a healthy life, and form regular habits of health and hygiene. People who engage in physical culture and sports tend to be more productive and less prone to errors at work. They take less time off for illness and accidents incurred on the job. Technical sports help improve work and military skills.

In 1918 the first physical-culture and sports groups and circles of the universal military training system were organized, as well as such Komsomol societies as Muravei (Moscow), Spartak (Petrograd), and Krasnyi Molodniak (Minsk). The first all-Union physical-culture and sports society, Dynamo, was founded in 1923, and the voluntary sports society Spartak was organized in 1935. More than 60 trade union voluntary sports societies were created in 1936.

State organizations and physical-culture and sports organizations, aided by trade unions and the Komsomol, have carried out a program for the mass development of physical culture and sports throughout the country since the earliest years of Soviet power. In the 1920’s large-scale competitions—for example, cross-country races, bicycle races, and cross-country ski races—were held in all areas of the USSR. In May 1920 the universal military training system conducted Sports Day in many cities. In the early 1920’s the first RSFSR championships were held, in swimming (1921) and soccer (1922), and the All-Union Physical-culture Holiday was held in 1923. The First All-Union Spartakiad, held in 1928, was dedicated to the achievements of the Soviet physical-culture movement. A total of 3.5 million persons took part in the preliminary round, and the finals in Moscow included 7,200 competitors; 600 foreign athletes also took part, representing 13 countries.

The principal goals for the development of physical culture and sports at the various stages of building socialism and communism were stated in the decrees of the Central Committee of the CPSU On the Tasks of the Party in Physical Culture (1925), On the Physical-culture Movement (1929), On the Execution of Directives by the Committee on Physical Culture and Sports of Party and Government Dealing With the Development of a Mass Physical-culture Movement in the Country and the Raising of Skills of Soviet Athletes (1948), and On Measures for the Further Development of Physical Culture and Sports (1966). The Program of the CPSU (1961) and decrees of the Central Committee of the CPSU emphasize the significance to the state of developing physical culture and sports as an important part of education.

The programmatic and normative basis of the physical-education system took shape in 1931 with the establishment of the all-Union physical-fitness program Ready for Labor and Defense of the USSR (GTO). In 1937 the development of GTO was furthered with the introduction of the Uniform All-Union Sports Classification, which set forth an outline for the step-by-step increase of skills in all sports practiced in the USSR and established the levels of fitness for athletes and the development of their achievements from mass sports groups to the highest classified categories. The norms and requirements of the classification, and GTO as well, have been gradually improved and elaborated. Changes introduced into GTO were approved in 1939 by the Council of People’s Commissars, and in 1972 a special decree of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR established a new GTO.

Organized activities in physical culture and sports may be compulsory or voluntary. Compulsory activities involve all students in general-education schools and vocational-technical, specialized secondary, and higher educational institutions, as well as personnel of the armed forces of the USSR, the militia, and certain other organizations. Activities are conducted in accordance with state programs, and each individual’s knowledge, capabilities, and skills are evaluated. Enterprises and educational institutions organize calisthenics and physical-culture breaks during working time. Ministries and agencies organize, direct, and supervise compulsory activities.

Individuals who wish to engage in organized physical-culture and sports activities in their free time may attend training sessions and take part in competitions. This large-scale work in physical culture, health, and sports is conducted by physical-culture and sports organizations of trade unions and certain ministries and agencies, as well as by the All-Union Society for Cooperation With the Army, Air Force, and Navy (DOSAAF USSR). In 1976 there were 39 such organizations. Of these, nine were all-Union, including the voluntary sports societies of the trade unions (Burevestnik, Vodnik, Zenit, Lokomotiv, and Spartak), the voluntary sports societies Dynamo and Trudovye Rezervy, DOSAAF USSR, and the physical-culture sports organization of the armed forces of the USSR. There are 30 republic-level organizations; each Union republic has one trade union voluntary sports society serving the urban population and one rural voluntary sports society.

The supervisory bodies of the physical-culture and sports organizations include central councils of the sports societies, as well as regional councils and councils for branches of the economy; other supervisory bodies are the Central Committee of DOSAAF USSR and its regional committees, the Sports Committee of the Ministry of Defense of the USSR, and the sports committees of the military districts and fleets. The work of the trade union voluntary sports societies is coordinated by the All-Union Council of the Trade Union Voluntary Sports Societies. That of the rural voluntary sports societies is handled by the Central Council of Rural Sports Societies. The overall supervision of physical culture and sports and of the work of the physical-culture and sports organizations is carried out by the Committee on Physical Culture and Sports of the Council of Ministers of the USSR (Sports Committee ofthe USSR) through the regional sports committees. Supervision of technical sports is carried out by the Central Committee of DOSAAF USSR, that of touring and orienteering by the Central Council on Tourism and Excursions of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions. The Sports Committee of the USSR and the Central Committee of DOSAAF USSR are assisted by the following public elected bodies of the physical-culture movement: the Olympic Committee of the USSR, sports federations of the USSR, and federations of the sports press and motion pictures and television.

Physical-culture groups have been organized by sports societies at enterprises, kolkhozes, sovkhozes, institutions, and schools; by 1977 there were more than 220,000 such groups. Approximately 1,500 sports clubs have been organized at higher educational institutions, at large enterprises, and construction sites. For those who wish to engage in technical sports, sections have been organized under the primary organizations of DOSAAF USSR, and more than 5,000 clubs had been created by 1975, including the V. P. Chkalov Central Air Club of the USSR and central radio, automotive, shooting, and boat clubs. The armed forces sponsor sports clubs of the army in military districts (and fleets) and the Central Sports Club of the Army.

Sports training is also given in sports schools. In 1977 there were 6,000 sports schools for children and young people, with a total enrollment of approximately 2 million, and more than 100 advanced sports schools, with an enrollment of approximately 30,000.

As of 1977, 55.4 million persons were enrolled in physical culture groups, sports clubs, and sports schools, and 41 million took part in sports sections. More than 30 million people do calisthenics as a regular part of the workday at 139,000 enterprises, institutions, and schools.

By the beginning of 1976 more than 262 million persons had been awarded a GTO badge (all stages), 136,000 persons had been named Masters of Sport of the USSR (title established 1935), and 4,800 persons had been named International-class Masters of Sport of the USSR (established 1965). The title of Honored Master of Sport (established 1934) had been awarded to 2,200 persons, and that of Honored Coach of the USSR (established 1956) had been awarded to more than 1,000.

In 1977 the number of persons with official staff positions in the physical-culture movement exceeded 305,000. Of these, 75 percent had a higher or secondary physical-culture education. There were also 7.2 million volunteer instructors and coaches and 5.1 million volunteer sports officials. Staff personnel are trained in more than 210 higher and specialized secondary educational institutions, including 21 institutes of physical culture and two branches of such institutes, 91 departments of physical education in pedagogical and other higher educational institutions, 30 technicums, and 69 divisions in pedagogical schools. Every year more than 15,000 persons graduate with a higher education in physical culture, and more than 10,000 with a secondary-level education. Research and teaching personnel are trained in graduate programs at the leading physical-culture higher educational institutions, which are located in Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, and Tbilisi. Specialized scientific research institutes of physical culture are found in Moscow (the All-Union Institute of Physical Culture), Leningrad, and Tbilisi (the Georgian Institute of Physical Culture). Higher educational institutions and scientific research institutes of physical culture employ more than 1,600 specialists with advanced degrees.

Medical and hygiene care and supervision are provided at sports events and physical-culture activities by 387 medical and physical-culture dispensaries and a network of medical stations.

The material and technical basis of the physical-cultural movement is expanding. By 1978 there was a total of more than 3,000 stadiums, approximately 70,000 gymnasiums, more than 1,400 swimming pools, 450,000 athletic fields, 104,000 soccer fields, 60 motorcycle racetracks, more than 22,000 shooting ranges, 6,300 ski centers, and 1,500 speed-skating courses.

Sports equipment production has reached 3 billion rubles a year. Sports institutes in Moscow include the All-Union Technological Planning and Experimental Design Institute for Sporting and Tourist Goods (VISTI) and the All-Union Institute for Planning Sports Facilities (Soiuzsportproekt).

Physical culture and sports are financed by the budgets of the state and trade unions, cooperative funds, and the revenues of physical-culture and sports organizations. The Soviet physical-culture movement has developed in a well-planned, balanced manner and on a large scale in all the Union republics, including remote regions (see Tables 1 and 2).

Considerable attention is devoted to the mass propagation of physical culture and sports. All-Union parades of athletes are held (the first, held in May 1919 on Red Square, was reviewed by V. I. Lenin), as well as mass sports and gymnastics holidays. In 1939 the Council of People’s Commissars established Physical Culture Day (July 18, now in August) as an all-Union holiday.

Sports competitions constitute one of the most effective means of propaganda. Every year as many as 300 are listed on the all-Union sports calendar. The most important include Spartakiads of the trade unions, the armed forces, the Dynamo and Trudovye Rezervy sports societies, and schoolchildren. Athletic games are held for young people and students. Mass children’s competitions include the Leather Ball in soccer, Golden Puck in ice hockey, White Rook in chess, and Summer Lightning and Eaglet in military athletic games. Spartakiads of the Peoples of the USSR have been held once every four years since 1956. They feature more sports and include more contestants than the Olympic Games. The number of participants in the preliminary round of the Sixth Spartakiad of the Peoples of the USSR in 1975 was 54 million, and the finals included 7,100 athletes from all the Union republics.

Table 1. Development of physical culture and sports in the USSR
Physical-culture groups ...............62,346185,646209,543231,559
Participants (thousands) ...............5,33228,72243,62363,569
Gymnasiums ...............1,16114,80944,63774,261
Stadiums ...............3781,9812,9183,693

In 1976 there were more than 30 sports newspapers and magazines (with a total single-issue circulation of more than 7 million), of which 15 were published for the entire country. The Fizkul’-tura i Sport Publishing House (founded 1923) and other publishing houses every year release more than 700 books and other publications, with a total printing of more than 10 million. Every year as many as 40 documentary, popular science, educational, and feature films on physical culture and sports are released. Many have won awards at international festivals. Central Television broadcasts approximately 900 hours of physical-culture and sports programming annually.

During the 1920’s and 1930’s the USSR’s international sports ties were limited, for the most part, to bilateral contacts with foreign workers’ sports organizations, united by the Red Sports International (founded 1921), and to participation in the Workers’ Olympiads, which the RSI organized. Although by 1940 more than 40 USSR records had surpassed the corresponding world records, they were not registered as official, since the Soviet sports organizations were not members of the international federations.

Soviet achievements in sports during the 1920’s and 1930’s were due to such athletes as E. M. Abalakov, V. M. Abalakov, B. V. Andreev, S. P. Boichenko, M. P. Butusov, A. I. Chinilin,

Table 2. Physical culture and sports in the Union republics (1980)
 Physical-culture groupsParticipants (thousands)GTO badge holders (thousands)Athletes with official ratings (thousands)Masters of Sport of the USSRStadiumsGymnasiums
USSR ...............231,55963,56927,60725,24112,2253,69374,261
RSFSR ...............116,79432,11213,41813,2515,8771,94141,086
Ukrainian SSR ...............44,59113,7995,9525,5022,47496113,914
Byelorussian SSR ...............10,6072,5331,1821,1326061343,083
Uzbek SSR ...............10,9313,3611,5371,0836111583,034
Kazakh SSR ...............12,1673,7031,7131,3425921244,663
Georgian SSR ...............6,8331,279530430341841,332
Azerbaijan SSR ...............6,7821,142554352216471,073
Lithuanian SSR ...............3,5421,01049844126831800
Moldiavian SSR ...............3,303870405325207631,103
Latvian SSR ...............2,51575133433424935578
Kirghiz SSR ...............2,68268030522313023711
Tadzhik SSR ...............3,38467838522513533675
Armenian SSR ...............3,174720361254229241,196
Turkmen SSR ...............2,6135022391189121601
Estonian SSR ...............1,64142919422919914412

V. M. D’iachkov, G. I. Fedotov, K. V. Gradopolov, P. A. Ippolitov, V. A. Ippolitov, N. F. Korolev, K. K. Kudriavtsev, la. G. Kutsenko, la. F. Mel’nikov, L. K. Meshkov, V. P. Mikhailov, N. G. Ozolin, G. D. Pyl’nov, M. I. Shamanova, Al. P. Starostin, An. P. Starostin, N. P. Starostin, K. I. Travin, F. K. Vanin, D. M. Vasil’ev, G. I. Znamenskii, and S. I. Znamenskii. Soviet sports developed international ties in the mid-1940’s.

The USSR’s sports federations joined most of the international sports associations. In 1975 they were members of 83 associations, including 13 in technical sports. They participate in world and European championships, world and European cups, and other competitions conducted by the associations.

Coaches and instructors who made significant contributions to the development of particular sports include V. I. Alekseev (track and field); I. la. Anikanov, and K. K. Kudriavtsev (speed skating); G. T. Anastas’ev (equestrian sports); B. A. Arkad’ev and V. A. Arkad’ev (soccer and fencing); G. A. Akhvlediani and A. I. Chinilin (volleyball); A. N. Bazhenov (skiing); V. V. Bure (swimming); A. la. Gomel’skii (basketball); S. A. Zhuk and E. A. Chaikovskaia (figure skating); E. I. Ivakhin and I. E. Turchin (handball); I. R. Iokhel’son and N. D. Pokrovskii (shooting); V. P. Kozharskii and S. A. Preobrazhenskii (wrestling); V. P. Korkin (sports acrobatics); M. V. Lisitsian and A. S. Mishakov (gymnastics); V. I. Ogurenkov (boxing); T. M. Petrukhina (diving); P. V. Pliukfel’der (weight lifting); A. P. Silaev and A. M. Shvedov (rowing); A. V. Tarasov, and A. I. Chernyshev (ice hockey); V. D. Trofimov (bandy); N. S. Tepliakova (tennis); and L. M. Sheleshnev and V. A. Kapitonov (cycling).

In 1978, Soviet athletes were world champions in acrobatics, basketball, wrestling (freestyle and Greco-Roman), volleyball, sailing, aeorobatics, helicopter sports, gymnastics (women’s), modern rhythmic gymnastics, kayaking and canoeing, crosscountry skiing, speedway, underwater sports, trampolining, weight lifting, fencing, figure skating, bandy, ice hockey, chess, and international checkers, as well as in model airplane sport, motorboating, skydiving, and model ship sport (see Table 3).

In 1951 the Olympic Committee of the USSR was created and recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The USSR has competed in the Olympic Games since 1952 and in the Winter Olympics since 1956. Between 1952 and 1976 in the unofficial team scores, Soviet athletes won the Summer Games five times; in 1952 they shared first and second places with the USA, and in 1968 they took second place behind the USA. They won the Winter Games four times, finishing second in 1968 behind Norway. At the Olympic Games (excluding the 1980 games), Soviet athletes have won first place 309 times, second place 252 times, and third place 236 times.

Soviet athletes who have won European, world, and Olympic championships on more than one occasion include A. Z. Aliev, I. G. Artamanova, A. I. Bogdanov, V. F. Borzov, V. N. Brumel’, N. la. Dumbadze, V. N. Engibarían, A. V. Firsov, N. T. Gaprindashvili, V. S. Golubnichii, O. G. Goncharenko, G. E. Gorokhova, A. G. Gorshkov, I. S. Iarygin, Viach. N. Ivanov, A. P. Kolchina, P. K. Kolchin, O. M. Korkiia, V. G. Kurentsov, B. N. Lagutin, I. A. Novikov, N. G. Otkalenko, L. A. Pakhomova, I. N. Press, T. N. Press, K. K. Reva, A. A. Roshchin, A. A. Seredina, L. K. Tediashvili, A. I. Zabelina, and L. I. Zhabotinskii.

Sports accounts for about 30 percent of all the USSR’s cultural ties. In addition to participation in official international competitions and in international sports associations, international ties include bilateral meets, joint training with foreign athletes, exchanges of specialists and sports officials, and participation in international conferences and symposia on current issues of physical culture and sports.

By 1977, 45 world championships had been held in the USSR, as well as 28 European championships and five competitions for the European Cup. The World Youth Friendship Games took place in the USSR in 1957, and the World Student Games in 1973. The International Congress on Sports Science was held in the USSR in 1974.

The decision adopted in 1974 by the International Olympic Committee to hold the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow is testimony to the international recognition of the contribution made by Soviet physical-culture and sports organizations to the development of the international sports and the Olympic movement.

The games of the 22nd Olympiad, which drew the world’s top athletes, showed a high degree of technical skill. In addition to numerous national records, the competitors broke 36 world, 74 Olympic, and hundreds of Continental records, including 40 European records. The Soviet athletes’ share of this accomplishment

Table 3. Soviet athletes ranking as world and European champions
World champions ...............45137154184227416392
champions in summer sports ...............3678129130137299272
European champions ...............131255308260366553543
champions in summer sports ...............131199252219284490480

amounted to 14 world and 32 Olympic records. The USSR’s Olympians collected 195 medals, including 80 gold, 69 silver, and 46 bronze. Olympic titles were won by 167 Soviet athletes; in addition, 105 received silver medals and 120 received bronze medals. Never before, in the entire history of the Olympic Games, has a national team achieved such success. Soviet athletes prevailed in 19 Olympic events, including basketball (women’s), freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling, judo, cycling (road race), volleyball (both men’s and women’s), water polo, gymnastics, equestrian events, track and field, yachting, diving, handball (women’s), modern pentathlon, archery, rifle shooting, weight lifting, and fencing. Soviet athletes were runners-up in six events and took third place in five events.

Soviet athletes made a particularly good showing in gymnastics, with nine gold medals out of 14, in freestyle wrestling with seven wins in the ten weight divisions, and in Greco-Roman wrestling and weight lifting, in which they captured half of the gold medals. Soviet track and field athletes achieved a number of outstanding victories. After lagging behind for many years, they carried off 15 gold medals and took first place in overall team scoring. Soviet swimmers also performed successfully, winning eight gold medals. A. N. Ditiatin (gymnastics), V. V. Parfenovich (canoeing), and V. V. Sal’nikov (swimming) won three gold medals each. V. V. Davydova, N. V. Kim, N. V. Shaposhnikova, A. V. Tkachev, and N. E. Andrianov (all gymnastics), S. A. Chukhrai (canoeing), V. F. Markin (track and field), S. V. Kopliakov (swimming), A. V. Starostin (modern pentathlon), and V. A. Krovopuskov (fencing) took two gold medals each.

Many renowned Soviet athletes triumphed again: three-time Olympic champion V. D. Saneev added a silver medal in the triple jump; Andrianov, V. G. Mankin (yachting), and V. A. Sidiak (fencing) each won a third gold medal; T. V. Kazankina and lu. G. Sedykh (both track and field) and V. A. Nazlymov (fencing) retained the titles they had won in the 1976 games in Montreal. The multinational USSR team was represented by athletes from nearly a hundred Soviet cities.

“The games of the 22nd Olympiad,” noted L. I. Brezhnev, general secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU and chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, in his message to all those who had hosted and staged the games, “had rallied the international Olympic movement and gave a new impulse to the further development of noble Olympic ideals.”


Istoriia fizicheskoi kul’tury i sporta. Moscow, 1975.
Sovetskaia sistema fizicheskogo vospitaniia. Moscow, 1975.
Fizicheskaia kul’tura i sport v SSSR v tsifrakh i faktakh (1917–1961). Moscow, 1962.
Vse o sporte [fasc. 2.] Moscow, 1974.
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Sport v SSSR: Ezhegodnik, 1937. Moscow, 1939.

The first tourist organizations in Russia were founded in St. Petersburg, Tiflis, and Odessa between 1885 and 1890. The Russian Society of Tourists, established in 1901, organized trips about the country and abroad. By 1914 it had approximately 5,000 members, for the most part from the well-to-do classes.

The Soviet tourist movement began to take shape in the early 1920’s. Trade unions organized trips for workers, and bodies of the People’s Commissariat of Education arranged trips for students and soldiers. Such travel, however, was not organized on a systematic basis. In the mid-1920’s, the activities of the Russian Society of Tourists were revived. The joint-stock companies Soviet Tourist and Inturist were established in the late 1920’s, as were the Society for Proletarian Tourism of the RSFSR (which replaced the Russian Society of Tourists) and the Central Children’s Excursion Tour Station of the People’s Commissariat of Education of the RSFSR.

In 1930 a decree of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR called for the merger of Soviet Tourist with the Society for Proletarian Tourism to form the All-Union Volunteer Society for Proletarian Tourism and Excursions. In 1932 the society had 936,700 members and 92 tourist centers of all-Union status; 6.6 million persons took part in tours and excursions. In 1936 a decree of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR entrusted the supervision of tours and excursions to the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions and its organizations. By 1940 the trade unions had established several thousand tourist groups at enterprises and in educational institutions, and they had organized tour and excursion itineraries in many regions, with 165 functioning tourist centers and camps.

During the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45 many tourist centers were destroyed. In 1945, however, the activities of the Tourist Excursion Administration of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions were revived. Tourist excursion administrations were established, with the first ones being formed in Moscow, Leningrad, the Crimea, the Northern Caucasus, Krasnodar Krai, and the Georgian SSR. By 1960 all the Union republics and 33 krais and oblasts of the RSFSR had such administrations. Tourist clubs existed in 144 cities. In 1962 the trade union tourist excursion administrations were reorganized as councils on tourism. In Moscow the Central Council on Tourism was established. It included representatives of the central state and public organizations and institutions that had a share in providing tourist services. By 1965 councils on tourism were operating in all the republics, krais, and oblasts. Tourist clubs existed in 1,510 cities and raion centers. During these years excursion bureaus were established in the large cities.

In 1969 the Central Committee of the CPSU, the Council of Ministers of the USSR, and the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions issued the decree On Measures for the Further Development of National Tourism and Excursions, aimed at transforming tourist travel and excursions into a major branch of service to the population. The Central Council on Tourism was reorganized as the Central Council on Tourism and Excursions, becoming one of the largest tourist organizations in the world.

Between 1971 and 1975, some 500 million rubles were allocated by the trade unions to develop tourism. In the period from 1976 to 1980 the same amount was allocated. The volume of tourist and excursion services grew from 260 million rubles in 1970 to 1 billion rubles in 1975. In the first three years of the tenth five-year plan, services grew to 1.2 billion rubles. The number of tourist centers, hotels, and campgrounds reached almost 1,000 in the 1970’s, and the number of places available grew from 157,000 to 300,000. In 1975 services were provided to 26 million tourists and 131 million excursionists. In 1965 they had been provided to about 2 million tourists and more than 8 million excursionists. In 1978 the figures were 27.4 million and 152 million, respectively.

More than 350 all-Union tour itineraries and more than 10,000 local itineraries are in operation. Every year about 7,000 sea and river cruises are organized (serving about 2 million persons), as well as more than 7,000 railroad tours (about 4.6 million persons), about 32,000 air tours (about 1 million persons), and more than 250,000 bus tours (more than 7 million persons). Travel and excursion bureaus have been opened in almost 600 cities and settlements. There are more than 3,000 clubs and more than 14,000 facilities for renting and issuing tourist gear.

More than 60,000 tourist sections have been established at enterprises, kolkhozes, educational institutions, and construction projects for such forms of touring as hiking, skiing, boating, and cycling. Since 1949 the sport of touring has been included in the Uniform All-Union Sports Classification. Competitions, at the all-Union and lower levels, are held regularly in the various forms of the sport of touring. Route qualification commissions and an inspection and rescue service have been created in the tourism councils. As of 1975, more than 100,000 persons had official sports ratings, and more than 600 persons held the title Master of Sport of the USSR (in touring). The sport of touring has been included in the all-Union physical-culture program Ready for Labor and Defense of the USSR (GTO).

The tourist movement in the USSR has developed in accordance with state policy regarding the protection of the people’s health. From state social insurance funds alone approximately 1.3 billion rubles are allocated every year for discount travel passes and subsidies to institutions of rest and recreation, tourist organizations, and sanatoriums. Moreover, considerable sums from the social funds of enterprises and sovkhozes are designated for the same purposes. Reduced transportation rates are granted for travel on the passes provided by trade union, youth, and children’s tourist organizations. Tourist organizations have been exempted from taxes.

The social composition of the tourist population is as follows: industrial and office workers, 33 percent; engineers, technicians, and members of the intelligentsia engaged in creative work, 28 percent; students and schoolchildren, 18 percent; sovkhoz and kolkhoz workers, 9 percent; retired persons, 4 percent; and others, 8 percent. In addition to the tourists who are served by the various tourist organizations, about 75–80 million persons (1974, estimate) go on unsponsored trips or walking tours.

The USSR’s tourist activities are among the most extensive in the world.

The main tourist regions include such major cultural and industrial centers as Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, and Minsk; in the south, the coasts of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, as well as parts of the Caspian coast; and in the southwest and west, Moldavia, Transcarpathia, the southern Ukraine, the Baltic republics, and Western Byelorussia.

In the 1960’s a central tourist region took form, including Novgorod, Rostov, Vladimir, Suzdal’, Uglich, Yaroslavl, and other old Russian cities. During the 1970’s a unique itinerary through some of the oldest cities of central Russia was established; called the Golden Ring, it begins and ends in Moscow and passes through Vladimir, Ivanovo, Pies, Kostroma, Yaroslavl, and Pereslavl’-Zalesskii. Increasing numbers of tourists are visiting the northern and eastern parts of the country—Karelia, the Kola Peninsula, the Urals, Siberia, Baikal, and the capitals of the Middle Asian republics. Of special importance are the sites of the Soviet people’s revolutionary, military, and labor glory and places associated with the life of Lenin. All organized all-Union and local tour itineraries have full programs of excursions, mainly by bus or on foot, depending on the season.

Since the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, as a result of the increase in tourism throughout the world and the considerable growth in interest in the Soviet Union, the USSR’s international tourist ties have been greatly expanded. Inturist is one of the world’s largest tourist firms. Since its founding in 1958, the Sputnik Bureau of International Youth Tourism has become the world’s largest tourist organization for young people. A department of international tourism was formed as part of the Central Council on Tourism in 1958, and in 1964 the Board of Foreign Tourism was established under the Council of Ministers of the USSR (since 1969 the Central Board of Foreign Tourism of the Council of Ministers of the USSR). Inturist offers its services in more than 100 of the country’s cities, and Sputnik maintains 19 large youth camps. In 1977 the USSR was visited by 4.4 million foreign citizens, as compared to about 500,000 in 1956. Approximately 2.7 million Soviet citizens traveled abroad in 1977, as compared to about 500,000 in 1956.

Research in tourism is conducted by the Institute of Geography of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, the All-Union Scientific Research Laboratory for Tourism and Excursions of the Central Council on Tourism and Excursions, and the Scientific Research Laboratory for Foreign Tourism, all in Moscow, as well as by other institutions.

Tourist organization personnel are trained in the central and regional tourist courses of the Central Council on Tourism and Excursions and at the Institute for Advanced Training of Specialists of the Central Board of Foreign Tourism of the Council of Ministers of the USSR, a special department in the Higher School of the Trade Union Movement of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions, the geography departments of the University of Rostov and the Byelorussian University, and the departments of the public occupations at a number of pedagogical institutes.

Periodicals dealing with tourism include the magazine Turist (Tourist), published by the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions; Turistskie marshruty (Tour Itineraries), published on a regular basis by the Central Council on Tourism and Excursions and the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions; and the magazine for foreign visitors Puteshestvie v SSSR (Travel to the USSR), published since 1966 in Russian, English, German, and French by the Central Board of Foreign Tourism of the Council of Ministers of the USSR.



Medunov, S. Slovo ob otdykhe. Moscow, 1973.
Azar, V. Otdykh trudiashchikhsia v SSSR. Moscow, 1972.
Abukova, N. Kh., and V. B. Akhalaia. Turizm i ekskursionnoe delo: Bibliografiia otechestvennoi literatury (1965–1973). Sukhumi, 1975.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

standard of living

a level of subsistence or material welfare of a community, class, or person
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
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