Abstract

Housing conditions in the USSR are a major economic, social and political issue. Housing is one of the primary sectors where the problem of balancing economic efficiency and equity considerations in the process of creating a new economy is evident. Widespread shortages and rigid allocation mechanisms have adversely affected household living conditions, labor motivation, and enterprise operations. The housing system shares many features with the other socialist economies, but the USSR has maintained the dominant features of a centrally planned housing system for the longest time and in their most traditional forms. The process of increasing centralization and state controls continued until the mid-1980s. The present housing system is characterized by planning and financing by decree, highly centralized production decisions, the dominance of monopolistic organizations producing industrial large-panel housing units in cities, the dominance of public ownership in urban areas, tight control over the allocation of housing units by the government and restrictive individual housing property rights. Land pricing mechanisms are absent, the ownership status of land among various types of government entities is ambiguous, and it is allocated in an arbitrary way. Households and other participants in this housing system have invested a considerable amount of skill and effort in dealing with it over a period of 60 years. Because of the magnitude of the housing sector and the impact of reforms on the entire population, moving to a market-based system will be a major challenge.

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