The Soviet economy in the 1980s

by Thane Gustafson


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The Soviet economy faces in this decade the most fundamental peacetime problems it has known since the beginnings of the command system in the 1920s. Western analysts are virtually unanimous on the Soviets' economic difficulties but disagree among themselves about the implications. In this paper the author presents some essential background information on the issues involved. Topics discussed include the fifteen years of declining performance from 1965 to 1980; the Soviet 11th Plan; the actual performance of the 11th Plan in 1981 and plans for 1982; and the implications of the Soviet decline for the 1980s, including nonsystemic and systemic factors. The final section of the paper discusses the connections between Soviet economic problems and military spending and the burden that military expenditures may represent for the Soviet economy.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Paper series. The paper was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 2003 that captured speeches, memorials, and derivative research, usually prepared on authors' own time and meant to be the scholarly or scientific contribution of individual authors to their professional fields. Papers were less formal than reports and did not require rigorous peer review.

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