Is it possible to avoid the catastrophic economic and demographic fallout from the USSR collapse

The 1990s in Russia were a very tough time after the Soviet Union collapsed, same in Ukraine/Belarus and other places as well. Alot of these countries have never recovered demographically (in terms of birth rates atleast) and are currently rapidly declining in population (didn't seem to effect Central Asia for whatever reason though)

I'm wondering if it's possible to have the USSR collapse go more "smoothly" and avoid having the demographic collapse?
 
If the Russian economy had restructured differently, perhaps. But I would add most ex-Soviet states experienced sharp fertility rate declines after independence, even those which experienced relatively little economic stress.

Lithuania for example saw their birthrate almost halve by 1995. Life expectancies also fell sharply among ex-Soviet states, though many quickly recovered.
 
For Russia: avoid the schock therapy measures and policies like the distribution of shares of the various companies among the people, which in fact enabled those with readily available funds (ie former KGB and Party officials) from buying them en masse and becoming the domineering economic players they became IOTL. Also, give Yeltsin better economic advisers, who stress to him the importance of Western aid to stabilise the Russian economy during its transition from a command economy to a free market one and convince him to enter into negotiations with Europe and the USA for that matter. It would be perhaps difficult, but if Yeltsin proposed that Russia join NATO (at least), then the Americans might be interested to try to influence the European governments to participate in a sort of "Marshall Plan", this time for Russia and Eastern Europe in general. This would also be a tough sell, as the British were facing troubles of their own while the Germans were beginning to realise the true costs of reunification. Now, perhaps if some things were done differently in Germany, like no 1 Ostmark = 1 Deutsche Mark, and a better organised Treuhand, whose aim would actually be to reorganise and revitalise the various East German companies under its control, thus resulting in a better economic situation in the East, then Bonn/Berlin may be less saddled with reunification-related costs and thus be more agreeable to such a proposal, especially if it was considered an opporunity to build a strong economic presence in Russia, which would appeal to the business world. If the Germans are in a better economic and financial situation than OTL, then the Deutsche Mark-related troubles of the ERM may not appear, thus meaning that Britain is also in a somewhat better form; the French would certainly be interested in the possibility of getting Russia in NATO (if I remember correctly, Mitterand had actually proposed something like that) and seeing the Germans participating in such an endeavour may tackle some of the concerns about the cost of a project of this kind. The Japanese could also be convinced to join and if they managed to deal more effectivey with the popping of the bubble in the 1989-1992 period and thus managed to avoid mostly or entirely the "Lost Decades", then it would mean that the programme would become much more effective, as Tokyo would be able to offer more funds and with less political and economic difficulties. If all these happen and there was a feeling that in the "End of History" time of the triumph of the West, the latter should probably try to stabilise and shape the world to its image, then it is possible that we could see a programme of economic and financial assisstance for Russia.

If this happens and succeeds, then Russia would be in a (much) better position. The transition to a capitalist economy would probably be smother, with no near total sociatal collapse, "Wild East" and other nice phenomena. Furthermore, it could be a more just development than its OTL equivalent, with more people outside the usual few benefitting from these changes. If Russia is more stable than OTL, this may encourage more investment there, particularly in natural resources, and even some outsourcing there, which could help even more with the recovery of the economy.

Now, all this is very difficult to be achieved: it demands many lucky breaks, perhaps some hindsight that people in the 1990s didn't have and perhaps even some ideas that wouldn't be very popular in the era of the "Neoliberal revolution". But I think it is plausible as a scenario and while it wouldn't turn Russia into a country of "blooming landscapes" (in an instant?), it would certainly prevent the economic and societal collapse that was experienced in the 1990s.
 
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For Russia: avoid the schock therapy measures and policies like the distribution of shares of the various companies among the people, which in fact enabled those with readily available funds (ie former KGB and Party officials) from buying them en masse and becoming the domineering economic players they became IOTL. Also, give Yeltsin better economic advisers, who stress to him the importance of Western aid to stabilise the Russian economy during its transition from a command economy to a free market one and convince him to enter into negotiations with Europe and the USA for that matter. It would be perhaps difficult, but if Yeltsin proposed that Russia join NATO (at least), then the Americans might be interested to try to influence the European governments to participate in a sort of "Marshall Plan", this time for Russia and Eastern Europe in general. This would also be a tough sell, as the British were facing troubles of their own while the Germans were beginning to realise the true costs of reunification. Now, perhaps if some things were done differently in Germany, like no 1 Ostmark = 1 Deutsche Mark, and a better organised Treuhand, whose aim would actually be to reorganise and revitalise the various East German companies under its control, thus resulting in a better economic situation in the East, then Bonn/Berlin may be less saddled with reunification-related costs and thus be more agreeable to such a proposal, especially if it was considered an opporunity to build a strong economic presence in Russia, which would appeal to the business world. If the Germans are in a better economic and financial situation than OTL, then the Deutsche Mark-related troubles of the ERM may not appear, thus meaning that Britain is also in a somewhat better form; the French would certainly be interested in the possibility of getting Russia in NATO (if I remember correctly, Mitterand had actually proposed something like that) and seeing the Germans participating in such an endeavour may tackle some of the concerns about the cost of a project of this kind. The Japanese could also be convinced to join and if they managed to deal more effectivey with the popping of the bubble in the 1989-1992 period and thus managed to avoid mostly or entirely the "Lost Decades", then it would mean that the programme would become much more effective, as Tokyo would be able to offer more funds and with less political and economic difficulties. If all these happen and there was a feeling that in the "End of History" time of the triumph of the West, the latter should probably try to stabilise and shape the world to its image, then it is possible that we could see a programme of economic and financial assisstance for Russia.

If this happens and succeeds, then Russia would be in a (much) better position. The transition to a capitalist economy would probably be smother, with no near total sociatal collapse, "Wild East" and other nice phenomena. Furthermore, it could be a more just development than its OTL equivalent, with more people outside the usual few benefitting from these changes. If Russia is more stable than OTL, this may encourage more investment there, particularly in natural resources, and even some outsourcing there, which could help even more with the recovery of the economy.

Now, all this is very difficult to be achieved: it demands many lucky breaks, perhaps some hindsight that people in the 1990s didn't have and perhaps even some ideas that wouldn't be very popular in the era of the "Neoliberal revolution". But I think it is plausible as a scenario and while it wouldn't turn Russia into a country of "blooming landscapes" (in an instant?), it would certainly prevent the economic and societal collapse that was experienced in the 1990s.

I think the distribution of shares wasn't a bad thing in and of itself, but it should have been handled better. For the first year the shares are unsellable and you conduct a major media campaign explaining how stock markets work. Then you split up the stocks evenly into A, B, C, D and E shares. The next year you can sell the A shares, the year after that the B shares , the next year the C shares etc. That way they aren't dumped on the market all at once and people get more and more of an idea what shares are and what they are worth. Maybe put a 0.1% tax on every transaction as the government can use the money.
 
I think the distribution of shares wasn't a bad thing in and of itself, but it should have been handled better. For the first year the shares are unsellable and you conduct a major media campaign explaining how stock markets work. Then you split up the stocks evenly into A, B, C, D and E shares. The next year you can sell the A shares, the year after that the B shares , the next year the C shares etc. That way they aren't dumped on the market all at once and people get more and more of an idea what shares are and what they are worth. Maybe put a 0.1% tax on every transaction as the government can use the money.
Well, I didn't mean to discard the whole plan altogether, but to avoid its otl form that enabled the massive purchases of shares by certain few. If it was done in a way like the one you described, then it may work. Perhaps if those shares were also non-transferable and partially or fully guaranteed, with each person owning only a share from a certain company, it might help improve the effectiveness of the scheme?
 
, with each person owning only a share from a certain company, it might help improve the effectiveness of the scheme?
Everything is privatized.

You get shares from the place/factory you worked at, more shares depending on seniority, and position in the company(managers get more), of Preferred, voting class Stock that cannot be sold for 5 years, that pay dividends, plus more in Common shares, that can be sold at the local Stock Broker at any time.
Active duty and retired Military men(and women) get shares in Defense companies. Farmers get from the machinery companies and stores

That way, everyone has some skin in the game, yet can't cash out early for drinking money, and slows already rich Oligarchs from gaining control
 

Falk

Banned
That's a cooperative. The eastern block was rife with cooperatives like that. What's the point of getting rid of communism only to replace it with communism.
 
That way, everyone has some skin in the game, yet can't cash out early for drinking money, and slows already rich Oligarchs from gaining control
I highlighted this particular words because they really show what goes so wrong in discussions like this: Most people just assume that the Russians were a) too stupid or b) too lazy to keep their shares. But that's not what happened. After the collapse of the USSR (and it's big social security state) most people really struggled to have enough money to pay rent, buy food, repair their cars or go to the doctor. Up until this day in the former USSR most doctors want cash payment and you also have to have enough money to bribe people you want something from.

The collapse of the USSR as a state meant the collapse of it's welfare state, which was not some kind of security net for the "less fortunate" but a foundation on which you build your life. This foundation imploded and left most people with (almost) nothing to work with.

If you want to prevent the economic and social disaster that was the collapse of the USSR for most people, you probably need to prevent it's collapse in the first place. And I don't mean that they have to stick to bureaucratic planned economies up until the second coming of Christ, but you need the welfare state to stay working. Even if it's reduced. You can't destroy the economy a society was built upon and then expect everything to go sunshine & roses. You need to adapt or may transform it.
 
Don't fully liberalize their economy. You could have something like China's Special Economic Zones and privately owned restaurants, small shops, ect. but despite what PragerU might tell you the Russian economy was more productive and standard of living was far better in basically every respect before the USSR collapsed than after (Real GDP per capita decreased from over $20,000 in the early 80s to a low of around $8,000 in the mid-late 90's, life expectancy dropped 5-10 years, ect).
 
That's a cooperative. The eastern block was rife with cooperatives like that. What's the point of getting rid of communism only to replace it with communism.
Plenty of Farmer Coops in the Midwest. They would heartily resist being called Communists
 
Most people just assume that the Russians were a) too stupid or b) too lazy to keep their shares
Yet that happened, didn't it?
It happened due to Gorby's anti-alcohol campaign.
It's one of the few countries that had a massive decrease in male life expectancy, due to easy access to cheap booze again in the early '90s

Stupid?
No just un-educated and misinformed. There a wide gap. They couldn't understand the benefits of being a shareholder(that upheld as an evil just a year before), while sharp operators offered them a pittance in cash now, for those shares
 
Yet that happened, didn't it?
It happened due to Gorby's anti-alcohol campaign.
It's one of the few countries that had a massive decrease in male life expectancy, due to easy access to cheap booze again in the early '90s

Stupid?
No just un-educated and misinformed. There a wide gap. They couldn't understand the benefits of being a shareholder(that upheld as an evil just a year before), while sharp operators offered them a pittance in cash now, for those shares
No, Russians didn't sell their shares because they wanted some booze. They "selled" them so they didn't starve to death (and in some times to avoid getting your home destroyed and your family killed).
 
No, Russians didn't sell their shares because they wanted some booze. They "selled" them so they didn't starve to death (and in some times to avoid getting your home destroyed and your family killed).
Malnutrition increased at the same time as that increase in alcohol sales. Guess where the money went?

WHO had 20% of men in the Russian Federation dying due to alcohol-related causes, compared with 6.2 percent of all men worldwide at that time

There was a problem, and it's still there.
In 1979 alcohol consumption was 15.2 liters per capita. dropped during Gorby's campaign, and by 1993, it was back to 14.5 liters.
That's still an insane amount of booze, and worse, most of that was hard Spirits, rather than a near equally high consumption amount in Germany, that was mostly Beer and Wine
 
The 1990s in Russia were a very tough time after the Soviet Union collapsed, same in Ukraine/Belarus and other places as well. Alot of these countries have never recovered demographically (in terms of birth rates atleast) and are currently rapidly declining in population (didn't seem to effect Central Asia for whatever reason though)

I'm wondering if it's possible to have the USSR collapse go more "smoothly" and avoid having the demographic collapse?
Avoid shock therepy and have the USSR be replaced by social-democratic leaning poltiicians.
 
Wasn't a one of the major problems that many industries were state owned. And the went belly up when their government support money dried up.
 
Wasn't a one of the major problems that many industries were state owned. And the went belly up when their government support money dried up.
everything was state owned.
So yeah, that was a problem when the State was no longer placing as many orders for Tanks and Aircraft to protect the country from WWIII

Amplified as the States like Ukraine, Baltics and the 'Stans went independent
 
Malnutrition increased at the same time as that increase in alcohol sales. Guess where the money went?
Dude, are you ignorant or trying to be offensive?

Each Russian citizen received precisely one so called 'vaucher'. Do you know what was a market price for it around 1993-94? ~4 thousand rubles. Do you know what you can buy for 4 thousand rubles in Russia back then? One pack of American cigarettes, twenty kilos of potatoes, 2 kilos of beef or two bottles of vodka.. So what money are you speaking about here?

Yeah, Russians were totally selling their vauchers to get themselves drunk and die from alcohol poisoning.
 
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Another issue is that shock therapy did not work at all. Better economic policy as previously claimed would be a better idea.
Could someone who was better than Yeltsin have helped? Yeltsin seemed to have no idea of how to run a country early on, spoiling valuable time to solve Russia's economic catastrophe.
 
One pack of American cigarettes, twenty kilos of potatoes, 2 kilos of beef or two bottles of vodka.. So what money are you speaking about here?
From the stats, looked like more liters of Vodka than sacks of potatoes, since Alcoholism had increased, along with the related deaths
What what I saw of the pricing of the era, the Vodka was far less, as prices fell in the '90s
In December 1990, the average Russian monthly income would get 10 liters of vodka- by December 1994, it was nearly 47 liters.
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Beer and Wine prices did not drop like that, just Spirits. More expensive Tobacco meant lung cancer rates dropped.

While deaths from Alcohol increased in the '90s, Infant mortality dropped, as well with the Elderly. If Malnutrition, those two groups should have had an increase in deaths.
They did not.
 
One thing to remember is all transitions are painful. People are used to the old system and until they are used to the new one it is going to be painful. That said besides what I said earlier about stocks I think a high initial tariff might have helped. Maybe GATT +70 percentage points dropping 10 percentage points a year for 7 years. That would give time for Russian industry to adjust. Despite its outward appearances the USSR was a developing country not a developed one as basically all its industries were poorly run and obsolete.
 
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