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Journal number 4 ∘ Joseph Archvadze

(Was welfare in Georgia higher than the USSR average?) 

Expanded Summary 

After the collapse of the USSR, the republics that gained independence began to take an independent path of development. The problems that they face along this path, the Russian Federation, as the successor of the USSR, are completely attributed to them, while the “contribution” of Russia itself to the problems that arise is by no means insignificant. In particular, the goal of such a policy towards Georgia is to present the situation in such a way that Georgia lived at the expense of other republics, in particular, at the expense of Russia in the Soviet period, and, secondly, to explain the difficult economic situation of Georgia in the post-Soviet period as the exceptional "merit" of Georgia itself and the result of the fact that Russia no longer contains it. The purpose of this position is to generate nostalgia for the USSR population in Georgia, which fully fits into the Chubais concept of a liberal empire.

One of the most biased theses, circulated by the Russian media, is that in Soviet times per capita consumption in Georgia was almost four times higher than production ($ 41.9 thousand and $ 10.6 thousand, respectively). In fact, in that year, per capita GDP was: in the USSR - 7563 dollars, in the Georgian SSR - 6420 US dollars, and in the USA itself - 24045 US dollars. Only 13 years after the collapse of the USSR - in 2004 - did the USA reach the 41.9-thousandth level of consumption.

In fact, real consumption in Georgia corresponded to the value produced on its territory, and the cost of products imported and exported to the republic was almost equal to half of the Georgian economy. At the same time, the standard of living in Georgia, the welfare of the population (GDP per capita) was lower than the USSR average - about 1/4 and occupied the ninth and tenth place among 15 republics. In terms of production and consumption of national income, Georgia lagged significantly behind the Russian Federation - by 33.1% and 33.6%, respectively, and from the Estonian SSR in first place - by 37.4% and 47.2%, respectively.

In Georgia, wages lagged significantly behind the corresponding average union indicators. Georgia among the 15 republics of the USSR occupied only the 13th place in the average monthly wage of workers and employees (77.9% of the average union indicator), in terms of the level of remuneration of workers of state farms - XII (69.8%) and in the remuneration of collective farmers – XIth place (96 ,8%).

Per capita income in 1990 in the USSR amounted to 2262.0 rubles, in the Russian Federation, respectively, 2216.1 rubles, in Georgia - 2216.1 rubles, or 98.0 percent of the level of the USSR and 85.8 percent of the level of the Russian Federation .

Georgia lagged behind the levels of the Soviet Union and Russia not only in cash incomes, but also in their commodity coverage. For every 100 rubles, commodity coverage in Georgia was only 64.5 rubles, while in the USSR it was on average 76.2 rubles. Georgia occupied the penultimate, 14th place in this indicator. The remaining financial resources flowed out of Georgia to purchase scarce durable goods (furniture, cars, etc.) in those regions of the USSR where the degree of coverage was higher compared to Georgia. However, the funds exported for the above purposes had a purchasing power of 1.5-2.0 times lower than the purchasing power of the local population.

 In the Soviet period, there were about 1.3 million people in Georgia. The population received more than half a billion rubles a year from the production of southern, subtropical crops (tea, citrus fruits) (on average per capita - 32 rubles per month).

 Georgia occupied the penultimate, 14th place in the production of electricity per capita.

There was a significant backlog of Georgia in agriculture. In terms of meat production per capita, Georgia ranked X among 15 republics, in eggs, respectively, XI place, in milk production - divided XIII-XIV places. Georgia was in first place in terms of the cost of gaining each centner of livestock products, surpassing the average level of the USSR by 2.5-2.7 times.

This lag also affected per capita food consumption. Each resident of Georgia consumed less than the average Union level: potatoes - 55 kg, vegetables and meat - 15-15 kg each, fish - 9 kg, vegetable oil - 4.0 kg. Meat consumption per 1 kg of the population was: in Georgia - 239 grams, in the USSR - 466 grams, in Estonia - 967 grams.

Despite this fall, in the last years of the existence of the USSR in the so-called The All-Union Fund from Georgia supplied 21.9% of the produced citrus fruits, 34.8% - potatoes, 20% - fruits and berries and 11.1% - vegetables.

Georgia was in last place by the number of apartments built per capita.

The transition to a market economy in Georgia proceeded according to the most dramatic scenario. By 1994, production fell almost four times compared to 1988. Both in Georgia and those countries that have problems with territorial integrity (Ukraine, Moldova), in the post-Soviet period the economy did not reach the pre-reform level. Due to the occupation of Georgian territories and the hostile policy of Russia towards Georgia, it has not been able to produce about 400 billion dollars of GDP during its independence.