What is the significance of the study of Soviet Union economic development ?

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Soviet Union has come out as an outstanding power. It has a new ideology as well a new economics. For various reasons, it is significant and illuminating to study the process of Soviet economic growth. It is interesting to examine how the old order of things, old values and standards were changed and a new era, a new civilization ushered in. Maurice Dobb has rightly observed, “it is doubtful whether in any previous age so profound a change affecting so large an area of the world’s surface has ever occurred within such a narrow span of time.

(1) The Soviet Union is the first country in the history of mankind where a socialist type of economy was founded. It was here where the Marxian experiments of “expropriation of the capitalist class and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat” were carried out. “This alone would suffice to give it a unique interest for economists and economic historians of our century, at least as great as that of post-1789 France, for political theorists and historians in the last century.”


(2) The Soviet experience shows how a backward agrarian economy could achieve unprecedented economic growth rapidly. This massive economic transformation took place with very little foreign assistance and through planning.

(3) The Soviet experience of exceptional tempo of industrial growth is of considerable interest to the economists as it throws new light on the factors governing economic development. Previously the economists were pre-occupied with consideration of “equilibrium.” But now the focus of attention has shifted to “Change”. The problems of economic development constituted a more fundamental issue. The crucial test of an economic system should not be the attainment of perfect equilibrium in any given situation as such but the development from one economic situation to another with its given resources.

(4) The strategy adopted for the achievement of a spectacular economic development was novel. Till the launching of the five-year plan in 1928, the Soviet industrial economy was characterised by the predo­minance of consumer goods industry. But since then, production of producer goods was deliberately given priority over the production of the consumer goods. Even today in the total industrial production of the U.S.S.R.. the share of consumer goods is one-fourth and that of producer goods, three-fourths.

(5) The Soviet economy simultaneously carried through a policy of rapid industrialization with collectivization of agriculture, to avoid any organisational imbalance between the industrial and agricultural sectors.


(6) The tempo of industrialization was partly dictated by the international situation and the needs of defence. This, however, did not conflict with economic growth.

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