Briefly about the major conclusions: The study starts with a reminder that about 20 years ago the CPSU promised to provide ‘the highest living standard in the world by 1980’. In October 1961, the Twenty-Second Party Congress adopted a new programme which stated: ‘the CPSU poses a task of worldwide historical significance — to provide the highest standard of living in the USSR compared with any country of capitalism’.
Although the text does not speak precisely of 1980, other parts of the programme and also Khrushchev’s speech presenting the programme to the Congress leave no doubt here.
The CIA study says (v–vi):
Events have turned out quite differently. Real per capita consumption in the USSR currently is less than a third of that in the United States. The gap was narrowed in the 1960s, but began to widen in the 1970s. The Soviets also lag far behind the major West European countries and Japan, and except for the United Kingdom, the differences have increased considerably since 1960 … Over the past 20 years, the Soviets have made the most progress in ‘catching up’ in food, soft goods, and durables, but have retrogressed relative to the United States in housing, recreation, education, and health … We estimate … the Soviet level [of per capita consumption] to be roughly half that of West Germany and France, about two-thirds of that in Japan, and about three-fourths of the level in Italy … Soviet consumers are also less well off than consumers in most of Eastern Europe … The pattern of expenditures on consumption in the USSR is markedly different from that in the United States and Western Europe, and the differences are greater than might be expected from levels of development … The Soviet pattern in many respects conforms to that in the less developed countries, and remarkably little progress toward a more modern pattern has been made in recent decades. In this and other respects, the USSR is indeed the world’s most underdeveloped developed country.
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