In terms of employment, basic human needs, education, living conditions, what was life like in the USSR between 1917 and 1991?What was life like there after 1991?

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brettd's profile pic

brettd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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I can generally summarize the conditions over time in the Soviet Union, although they did vary to  a great degree depending on the time and the crises involved. Because this was a communist country (actually, the original one), the economy was centrally planned by the government.  Where you worked, how much you produced, how much that would cost were all decisions by the central government and not the businesses themselves.  You would hardly ever get a raise, but prices for gods would not rise either.

There was no freedom of speech, you had to be very careful what you said in public or you could be "denounced" by anyone else, and this would mean you could get imprisoned or even killed. That was more true in the first three decades of the republic than later.

Education was free, all the way through college.  If you tested high enough and your career choice was approved, they would pay for your schooling all the way through graduate school.  While there was propaganda and bias in the humanities and arts, math and science education was among the best in the world.  The literacy rate skyrocketed.

It was difficult to always get the things you needed to survive on.  There were constant shortages at the stores, and long lines waiting for bread, meat or soap.  There might be a five year wait for an apartment or a car.

krishna-agrawala's profile pic

krishna-agrawala | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted on

1917 to 1991 is a long time. In addition, for USSR this was a time of many different types of major changes. The First World War continued up to 1919 and the Second World War took place between 1939 and 1945. The Czars were deposed in 1917 followed by take over by communists. And the initial period of government by communists also had been quite eventful. There were civil wars between different factions. Actually the USSR itself was founded in 1922.

Because of wars and internal strife, the life in USSR quite difficult till end of World War II. Subsequently as a result of planned economy they made good progress in all areas including employment. standard of living and education. However, this approach had limitations and subsequently many problems cropped up. Because of these problems discontent among people increased. Which ultimately led to break up of USSR in 1991.

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