Russia: Social Developments 1917-85

Social Security 1917-53

  • War Communism: All soviet citizens 16-50 must work
  • 1918 Declaration of the Rights of Toiling & Exploited people, removed private ownership, introduced labour duty
  • Food & Fuel rationed by Prodraspred
  • Urban population fell by 25% during civil war
  • The NEP: Unemployment returned as soldiers were immobilised
  • By 1924 18% of urban workforce were unemployed
  • Entitled to Social Insurance (disability benefits), 1922 Labour law gave unions power
  • Govts focus on proletariat excluded peasants
  • Under Stalin: Compulsory work reintroduced, Labour discipline harsh and criminalised
  • Construction of over 30,000km of railways
  • Vaccines universally available for typhus by 1947
  • Problems: peasants benefitted much less, not entitled to rations
  • Food shortages, used rotten food leading to illness, Sanitation was poor leading to dysentery
  • Housing: 1920s redistribution of land
  • NEP 89% housing privatised
  • Stalin, Kommunalka, entire families lived in 4.5m2 rooms
  • Moscow Coal fields 15k bed for 26k people
  • 1941-45 1/3 of housing damaged
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K & Brezhnev, Promotion of Stable Society 1953-85

  • Welfare under K: Doubled spending on healthcare 1950-59
  • Quadrupled pension budget 1950-65
  • In 1961 introduced free lunches in schools, free pensions & healthcare for farmers
  • Deathrate dropped by 2.4 1950-65
  • Infant mortality (per 1k live births) 81 to 27
  • Housing: 1953-85 K-7 housing block, allowed families who apartments 
  • This continued through 1970s 80s
  • Brezhnev 'Social Contract': Abandoned K's goal of communism by 1980
  • Welfare part of 'social contract' between people and govt
  • Guaranteed: job security, low prices, second economy, subsidised living costs 
  • 1960s-70s high standard of living, Policies broadly achieved social stability 
  • Social Problems: Based on traditional roles of women
  • female unemployment as high as 10% in some areas
  • Alcoholism caused life expectancy to decline from 68 to 64 during the 1970s
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Changing status of women

  • Civil War: Zhenodtel, women's department of the communist party
  • recruited women to work in creches and orphanages 
  • NEP: Women working in industry sacked
  • Widespread unemployment & limited benefits led to prostitution (39% of men used prostitutes)
  • Stalin's Industry: Over 10Mil joined workforce by 1940 (increase of 300%)
  • During WW2 made up 75% of workforce, BUT paid 40-60% of male wage
  • 1953-85: 1960s 40% of industry jobs were women
  • Restricted to: production line, heavy manual labour 
  • Mid-1960s: 74% clerical jobs women
  • By 1985 dominated: 70% medical doctors, 75% employees at uni's
  • 1920-40s high proportion of women in agriculture
  • Virgin Land Schemes 1958, 450/6.4k women got well-payed jobs
  • By 1970, 72% lowest paid farmers were women
  • By 1980, 2% of teachers women, 2% of farm managers women
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The Family

  • The Family 1917-35: Lenin was conservative but supported reforms suggested by Zhenotdel:
  • Abortion on demand, contraception, accessible divorce, legalisation of Gay & Prostitution.
  • The Great Retreat 1936-53: Stalin much more conservative
  • Abortion criminalised, contraception banned, homosexuality criminalised 
  • Lesbianism a disease, Sex outside of marriage stigmatised, Divorce expensive
  • Financial incentive for having children (5k roubles for 11 children)
  • The Family 1953-64: Legalised abortion, increased paid maternity, Mass produced clothes (wanted to end the double shift for women) 
  • Problems: contraception hard to acquire, Creches prevented women full working days
  • The Family 1964-85
  • By 1979, 1/3 of soviet marriages ended in divorce 
  • 1970s- Pronatalist, coupled with propaganda against women going to work that have children
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Illiteracy & Young People

1917 30% of the population could read and write

  • Civil War: 1918 50% soldiers illiterate, 1925 100%
  • Lunacharsky set up network of reading rooms 
  • Learning was not a priority outside of the Red Army 
  • NEP: Metalworkers union reported 14% to 4% illiteracy in 1926
  • 38% 1914 to 55% by 1928
  • Under Stalin: FYP failed to eradicate illiteracy as 40% of teachers attacked by 1939 94% 

Kosmol & Young Pioneers 1918&1922: Meant to be young representatives of the CP instead had reputation for drunkenness and hooliganism. Expected to spy on parents under Stalin 

  • K had large faith in Kosmol (playing leading roles in factories)
  • Brezhnev was superstitious, viewed as potentially dangerous. 
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Education: The curriculum

  • Schooling 1917-28: Before 1921 many schools requisitioned for barracks
  • 1927 fees abolished By 1928 60% were in primary education
  • Only wealthy got secondary education
  •  Under Stalin: core subjects, history of 'great men', strict discipline 
  • 100% 8-12 y/o gained 4 years of primary education
  • 65% 12-17 secondary
  • 20% 15-17 completed
  • University education expanded from 170k to 1.5million by 1953 (fees maintained)
  • K's Reforms: merged small country schools
  • doubled number of schools in towns 
  • Invested in teacher training 
  • Abolished secondary fees by 1956 
  • Brezhnev: Reinstated traditional education
  • Vocational education ended 
  • By 1985 same curriculum as 1947
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