The Soviet Union disintegrated in December 1991 as its ruling elite of privileged
Communist Party and state officials made a sharp turn to restore the capitalist system, with themselves as the new capitalists.
The UN’s 2005 Human Development Report provides a graphic summary of the social devastation
that has resulted:
In central and east Europe and the former
Soviet Union, the proportion of the population living on less than US$2 a day rose
from 5% in 1990 to 20% in 2001.
In Russia, 10% of its population lives on less than $2 a day, and 25% lives below the national subsistence line.
The economies of the former Soviet republic contracted by 50%
in the early 1990s. While Russia, Ukraine and some others have returned to positive growth over the last few years, average incomes are still lower than they
were 15 years ago.
”Since 1990, real per capita income has falen by more than 10% in Kyrgyzstan,
Russia and Ukraine, and by 40% or more in Georgia, Moldova and Tajikistan.”
In the two years after Russia was engulfed by the 1998 financial crisis, 30 million of its inhabitants were forced below the poverty line.
Life expectancy for males in Russia
dropped from 70 years in the mid-1980s to 59
years in 2003 — lower than India!
Since 1990, the human development index ranking — a UN
measure of social wellbeing — dropped among six ex-Soviet republics: by 21 places for Tajikistan,
17 places for Ukraine and 15 places for Russia. There are two main causes of the ranking decline — economic collapse after the dissolution of the USSR’s
state-owned, planned economy and the “catastrophic drop in life expectancy”, e.g., between 1990 and 2003, Russia
fell 48 places in world life expectancy ranking.
What these numbers fail to account for is the difference between what is and what would
have been if communism had continued, for under that system there was steady improvements in all areas offor quality
SOCIALIST VIETNAM HAS GREATEST
IMPROVEMENT IN STANDARDS FOR POPULIST OF ALL UNDERDEVELOPED COUNTRIES—U.N. REPRORT REVEALS, WHILE OTHER UNDERDEVELOPED
NATIONS ON AN AVERAGE FAILED TO PROGRESS IN THE LAST 5 YEARS.
UN report says Vietnam’s social progress ‘exceptional’
In reviewing how 177 of the UN’s 191 member
countries are faring in achieving the eight “Millennium Development Goals” (MDGs) set five years ago, the UN’s
2005 Human Development Report, released in September, didn't have a lot of good news to report
It registers many regressive developments, including a further
widening of the already large development gaps between rich and poor countries, and an unprecedented reversal in key social indicators in 18 countries with a combined population of 460 million. Yet the social gains in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam keep cropping up throughout the report as a positive exception.
Some of the highlights of these are:
Vietnam's score in human development — measured by the UN’s human development index (HDI), which is based on a
country's achievements on average income level, literacy, school enrolment and life expectancy — far exceeds its average income level. Even though Guatemala's
average income level is twice that of Vietnam's, its HDI ranking
— 117th — is lower than Vietnam's ranking of 108th.
Guatemala's 2003 GDP per capita in purchasing power parity
(PPP) was US$4148 in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms while Vietnam's was $2490.
Even though China
has grown economically at a higher rate than Vietnam since
1990 (8.5% for China, 5.9% for Vietnam)
and Vietnam’s average income level is lower than China's
(China’s GDP per capita in PPP was twice that of Vietnam),
Vietnam has now overtaken China
on improvement in child mortality. Between 1970 and 2003, China improved from 85 death per 1000 life births to 30 for infants
and from 120 to 37 for the under-fives, while Vietnam progressed from 55 to 19 (infants) and from 87 to 23 (under-fives).
The report remarks: “Had China matched Viet
Nam's [improvement in child mortality],
276,000 lives could be saved.”
‘‘Some countries have registered an extraordinary
rate of advance towards the MDGs often from very low levels of income. Vietnam is one. Income poverty has already been cut in half,
falling from 60% in 1990 to 32% in 2000. Child mortality rates have fallen from 58 per 1000 live births
(a far lower rate than income would predict) to 42 over the same period. Rapid, broad-based economic growth has contributed
to Viet Nam's
success. So have investments in human development during the 1980s.”
The poorest 20%
of Guatemalans have an average income of $550 a year or 46% below the $2 a day international poverty line. “Were this
group to capture the same share of income as the poorest 20% in Viet Nam, their average incomes would rise to $1560, or 66%
above the $2 a day line”, the report notes.
The report features a comparison between socialist Vietnam
and capitalist Mexico. Since the end of the 1980s, Vietnam
introduced greater market mechanisms into its centrally planned economy and increased trade on the capitalist world market.
Since the early 1990s, Vietnam’s imports and exports
have been rising at more than 20% a year. “Participation of trade has been critical [for Vietnam],
providing producers with access to new markets and new technologies”, the report states.
It adds that “development advances have accompanied this trade
success. During the 1990s income poverty levels fell from 58% to 28%, life expectancy increased by six years, and child mortality
was cut in half. Inequality has risen, but from a low base. The [social inequality measuring] Gini coefficient increased from
35.7 at the start of the 1990s to 37 at the end of the decade — still one of the lowest in the world. The country's
HDI ranking today is 16 places above its wealth ranking.”