Standard of living

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  • How did the standard of living change?
    • There is no doubt that the standard of living fell for most oridnary Russians during the 1930's. After 1931 most people were paid piecework, yet average income was probably about 50% of that in 1928.
    • There were severe shortages, so queuing was a way of life. Fresh foods were often not available.
    • Most people ate meals in the communal canteens at their place of work rather than cook at home.
    • Luxury goods were just not available, or were only available in special shops for Party bureaucrats or managers.
    • Housing was in short supply, because it was low on the Party's priorities, and overcrowding common.
    • Clothes, shoes boots, materials to repair things, were also difficult to get hold of, so the quality of life deteriorated.
    • Things were particularly hard in rural areas, especially for Kulaks or better off farmers affected by collectivisation.
    • It was towards the end of the 1930's before there were enough tractors to begin to affect their productivity. Once private plots were allowed then the standard of living began to improve.
    • In the cities there were opportunities for people to improve their prospects if they had the skills or good fortune to get one of the millions of new managerial, technical or even supervisory posts created by inductrialisation.
    • With luck a new flat, better rations or access to some of the new, scarce, consumer goods would go with the job.
    • Officially unemployment disappered in 1932. This fiction was maintained through the communist era. In fact often two or three people did a job that could have been done by one.
    • During the Five Year Plans a seven day week was introduced and absence from work became a crime. Skilled workers were not allowed to leave their jobs. An internal passport was introduced to control movement.


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