The Soviet Block : Social and Demographic Developents (2) : 1969-1989



The socialist state provided its citizens with a number of services - education (Soviet and East German high schools had higher standards regarding the reading list than US high schools do), health service (socialist standard), child care (every combinate had its child care unit); in addition subventioned housing and consumer goods. The party and the trade unions provided hostels for vacationers.
The average socialist citizen wanted to have decent housing, own a car and perhaps a DATSCHA (garden house) on the countryside. He wanted to spend his vacation perhaps on Lake Balaton (Hungary), at Bulgaria's Black Sea coast or on the Crimean peninsula, where seaside resort Yalta once had hosted a conference of historical importance.
Eastern Europeans pursued hobbies as westerners did, collected stamps, engaged in a sport etc.

Knowledge of the west was widespread, a partial knowledge that focussed on Hollywood glamour; the image of the GOLDEN WEST was cultivated; from the late 1970es onward many Russians, Poles, East Germand, Czechs, Hungarians etc. were willing to take on great risks for the chance to get to the west. Russian girls asked visiting western men to marry them pro forma, in order to get out; many Polish athletes did not return from trips abroad; in East Germany there were people living of trafficking human beings out of the country.
The birthrate in East Germany and Hungary were among the lowest in Europe (contraception had been made available here, too); East Germany's population, giving the legal and illegal exodus, actually declined. The government tried to replenish its workforce by bringing in Vietnamese. In these nominally atheistic states, the divorce rates increased also.


Birth Rates, Socialist Countries per 1000 population
source : B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics, Europe 1750-1988, pp.100-113
country / year (1920) (1940) (1960) 1970 1975 1980 1985 1988
Bulgaria
Czechoslovakia
GDR
Hungary
Poland
Rumania
USSR
39.9
26.7
(25.9)
27.6
(32.8)
33.7
30.9
22.2
20.6
(20.1)
20.0
(24.3)
26.5
31.2
17.8
15.9
17.0
14.7
22.6
19.1
24.9
16.3
15.9
13.9
14.7
16.6
21.1
17.4
16.6
19.6
10.8
18.4
18.9
19.7
18.1
14.5
16.3
14.6
13.9
19.5
18.0
18.3
13.3
14.6
13.7
12.2
18.2
15.8
19.4
12.0
13.8
12.9
11.7
15.5
(15.5)
18.8
Numbers GDR before 1949 for all of Germany; Poland (1920) 1921, (1940) 1939, Rumania (1988) 1987




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First posted on July 17th 2001, last revised on November 11th 2004

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