CWK Social Developments Essay 23rd April 2018
How far do you agree that the standard of living of all Soviet Citizens improved in the years 1953 to 1985?
The Soviet people have been through a great period of change in the last century, more so arguably than many other nations in the world. The communist government led different rates of change throughout the different leaderships that included Lenin, Stalin, and in this period Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Andropov and Gorbachev. The lives of Soviet citizens, it can be argued improved during this time period but it can also be argued that the standard of living also stagnated and, perhaps in some areas, decreased. The standard of living in a country can be measured by the quality and provision of housing, education, and the work and social reforms and plans of a government.
Housing was never one of Stalin’s main priorities; as industrialization was always the focus and was given priority. In fact many of Stalin’s policies aided the housing crisis pre ’53 and exacerbated the significant damage caused by WW2. His policies, that did little to solve the problems and forced the populous to live in squalid accommodation with no amenities or privacy, were in a stark contrast to Khrushchev’s who took over in 1953. Between the years 1950 and 1965 housing more than doubled under Khrushchev. This was not by accident or coincidence; Khrushchev had launched deliberate policies to build more houses, with the key component of this plan being the Kommunalka. It gave a flat, dedicated to each family, and had at least two bedrooms and a kitchen. Before, the majority of families were forced into a single room, a stark and blinding improvement to the Soviet standard of living compared to Stalin’s rule. In terms of housing, Soviet living standards had increased dramatically under Khrushchev from the cramped, dingy and inadequate social housing from Stalin. However, under Brezhnev and future Soviet leaders, the ‘temporary’ Kommunalka pre-fab blocks were not replaced for better housing by the 80’s, as they should have been. In this way, although housing didn’t necessarily deteriorate under Breznev, Andropov and Gorbachev, there was no drive to improve the quality or quantity of housing and thus in these terms, Soviet living standards increased and then plateaued.
Education is an important measure of the standard of living within a country. With a good education system, students learn vital tools needed for a successful economy. The content of the syllabus taught to Soviet varied significantly throughout the years ’53 to ’85 and the compulsory terms for a student’s education varied according to the leader of the Soviet Union. A majority of Khrushchev’s policies stemmed from his practical nature; and so, in 1958 he introduced vocational training into all schools, and university students had to undertake practical economic work. Throughout Khrushchev’s term education was made compulsory for 7 to 15 year olds in the 1959...