Economy of the Soviet Union

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Economy of the Soviet Union

Post by msistarted on Mon Jan 10, 2011 2:27 am

The economy of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was based on a system of state ownership of the means of production, collective farming, industrial manufacturing and centralized administrative planning. The economy was characterised by state control of investment, public ownership of industrial assets, and during the last 20 years of its existence, pervasive corruption and socioeconomic stagnation.

After Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, continuing economic liberalisation moved the economy towards a market-oriented socialist economy. All of these factors contributed to the final dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. The stagnation which would consume the last years of the Soviet Union was caused by poor governance under Leonid Brezhnev and inefficiencies within the planned economy. When the stagnation began is a matter of debate, but is normally placed either in the 1960s or early 1970s.

From 1928 to 1991 the entire course of the economy was guided by a series of Five-Year Plans. Within 40 years, the nation evolved from a mainly agrarian society and became one of the world's three top manufacturers of a large number of capital goods, heavy industrial products and weaponry. However, the USSR lagged far behind in the output of light industrial production and consumer durables, mostly because of inability of Gosplan to predict the demand for such products.

The complex demands of the modern economy and inflexible administration overwhelmed and constrained the central planners. Corruption and data fiddling became common practice among bureaucracy to report fulfilled targets and quotas thus entrenching the crisis. At its peak, from Stalin to early Brezhnev, the Soviet economy grew at the same phase as the economies of the United States, Japan and that of the Russian Empire, its predecessor state.[13]

The USSR's small service industry accounted for 0.82% of the country's GDP in 1990 while the industrial and agricultural sector contributed 21.9% and 20% respectively in 1991. Agriculture was the predominant occupation in the USSR before the massive industrialization under Joseph Stalin. The service sector was of low importance in the USSR, with the majority of the labor force employed in the industrial sector. The labor force totaled 152.3 million people. Major industrial products include petroleum, steel, motor vehicles, aerospace, telecommunications, chemicals, electronics, food processing, lumber, mining, defense industry.

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