Here is the actual research and comparison of life in the USSR (1970s) and life in Russia (2000s).

It is quite interesting to compare old and new lifestyles. My research is devoted to the life of ordinary people and doesn’t concern politics.

Let’s start with the remuneration of labor of ordinary people.

Minimum wage

The remuneration of labor in the USSR was estimated according to the profession and the employment term. Even graduates could count on the salary, which was enough for everyday life in the USSR and for making savings on summer holidays.

In today’s Russia the minimum wage is established, but the minimal standard of living in Russia is much higher than the average wage.

Personal accommodation

In the USSR payment for accommodation was rather formal. Housing and public utilities, electricity, gas and other services had a barely noticeable influence on the monthly budget of a family.

All employees were also provided with the dormitory accommodations. Rare experts and certain categories of citizens were almost immediately granted with apartments. Other employees had to “get in the line”, but sooner or later they all received apartments. Later, with the birth of children, people could get in the queue for the improvement of living conditions and could get a bigger apartment.

The USSR factories had different opportunities for granting their workers with apartments.

In today’s Russia certain categories of citizens can still claim for free accommodation, which they can transfer into their own property. First of all, officials and military men can claim for this right.

But now the only option for the population to improve the living conditions is to rent or purchase the real estate.


Back in the USSR, the level of unemployment tended to zero. If the state educated a person for a profession, it was obliged to provide him with a professional job. If the need for some professions were being decreased, the state reeducated people. Many people literary worked at the same place all their life. The USSR Criminal Code clearly stated that a person without a permanent job could be condemned.

Now in Russia the unemployment rate is rather low (in comparison with other developed or developing countries), but the state can’t promise people a guaranteed job and, especially, a professional job. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that salary will be enough for living.

Middle class

A family in the park, man is holding a “Soviet Russia” newspaper

A family in the park, man is holding a “Soviet Russia” newspaper, 1982. Photo by Vladimir Kryukov

Back in the USSR, the middle class was the main class in the state. There was a small layer of power “confidants” who had special benefits from the state, and there was a small group of “deprived”, which was formed on a territorial sigh (villagers and small town citizens). These poor people couldn’t sell their accommodations or houses; they could only “exchange” them. But no one from big cities with developed infrastructure was willing to make such an exchange. As a result, the only chance for people was to educate their children in view to move to another place.

Dancing flashmob devoted to the Family Day

Dancing flashmob devoted to the Family Day, 2014. Фотобанк Лори

In modern Russia the middle class is very small. It is just a little bit bigger than the upper class. The middle class is considered to be the feature of big cities. Small towns do not have the middle class at all.

In today’s Russia there are many people from the lower class or even people who are below the poverty line. Mostly, they live in regions, which are remote from big cities.

Medical service

In the USSR the medical service was free. By the end of the USSR period, the box of chocolates, flowers or cognac, for example, were regarded as “good manners” and were often given as a form of gratitude for a successfully executed operation.

In modern Russia the minimum of medical service is still free but mostly in backward hospitals. Many advanced medical centers, which are officially financed by the state, provide paid services (they almost cannot be escaped), moreover there exists a shadow “fixed price”, according to which a doctor can even refuse to see a patient.

At the same time there is a large number of private health care facilities, providing courses of annual or temporary services. But the ration between “qualities of service/cost” considerably lags from developed and developing countries, which means that the cost is overstated. Such situation turns qualified private health care facilities into inaccessible luxury. At the same time some services can be cheaper than abroad, for instance, dentistry.

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