"Quality of life" is a difficult concept to define, and particularly so when referring to the Soviet Union because Westerners have many preconceptions about Soviet living conditions. This volume goes a long way toward illuminating the realities of daily Soviet life and stands as an important contribution to our understanding of the Soviet Union. Contributors focus primarily on the relation of quality of life to living conditions but also discuss the quality and availability of state-provided services such as education, health care, and housing. Of special interest is their coverage of problems in Soviet society, including working conditions in factories, living conditions in rural areas, alcohol abuse, and the status of the elderly. Together these essays show that although the Soviet government has made great strides in improving the living conditions of its citizens, Soviet living standards and services are relatively poor by Western standards and several important social problems continue to burden the Soviet people.
Foreword -- What Is and Why Do We Study the Quality of Life in the Soviet Union? -- On Quantifying Quality -- Soviet Living Standards in Comparative Perspective -- Consumer Goods and Services: Contemporary Problems and Their Impact on the Quality of Life in the Soviet Union -- Aspects of Poverty in the Soviet Union -- Medical Care in the Soviet Union: Promises and Realities -- Aspects of Soviet Secondary Education: School Performance and Teacher Accountability -- Housing Quality and Housing Classes in the Soviet Union -- Self-Fulfillment Through Work: Working Conditions in Soviet Factories -- The Vanishing Babushka: A Roleless Role for Older Soviet Women? -- Alcohol Abuse and the Quality of Life in the Soviet Union -- Aspects of the Quality of Rural Life in the Soviet Union