Labor and the Census in the Ukraine
by Michael Canale, April 2001
Labor is one of the important pieces of the puzzle in a working economy. The size of the labor force in a Soviet Republic is determined by a census. The census was taken in 1959, 1970, 1979, and in 1989 (Koropeckyj, pg. 93). To be included in the labor force, an individual must report that they make the majority of their income through the state sector, collective farms, or private subsidiary (Koropeckyj, pg. 94). The labor force in the Ukraine is comprised of full time laborers as well as Military personnel, part time pensioners, seasonal workers, women on maternity leave, and workers receiving training outside of the workplace (Koropeckyj, pg. 94). The overall purpose of the census provides the government with a statistical database of the workers within the Ukraine. Statistics include age, sex, income, type of work, level of education, and many other attributes of the labor force.
First, the definition of a command economy is a system in which the production means are publicly owned by a central authority that assigns production goals and allots raw materials to different productive enterprises (Britannica). Basically the idea is that the government will take control over the ownership of industry and provide a planning system to maximize labor utilization. The end result is an economy with low unemployment. The central planners set prices, quantities, allocate resources, and set production goals (Britannica). The Ukraine followed the Soviet Command economy and as a result gave up its own political power and ability to run its economy so the command economy could be instituted. The decision to move to the command economy would shuffle the labor force around so that it would better suit the new plan. Instead of utilizing the Ukraine for its agriculture like the country had been doing for the past few centuries, the new centrally planned economy was based more on industry. The result would be slowed growth in the economy, mismanagement of resources, and the plan would eventually fail when the Soviet Union crumbled. The difference between a market economy and a command economy vary greatly. In a market economy, the ownership of industry is all privatized. Therefore, decisions are made by individuals and not by a central planning committee. Labor is dispersed more due to demand, not by the central planning committee's ideals. Prices are set by the market value and not by the governments suggested retail value. Eventually the Ukraine would switch over to the market economy along with the rest of the former Soviet Union when the USSR crumbled in 1991.
Between 1970 and 1990, the Ukraine saw an increase in the labor force of 0.6 percent annually (Koropeckyj, pg. 94). The population growth throughout the Central Asian and Transcaucasion populations of the Soviet Union was more rapid than the Ukraine's population growth. The result is a decrease in share of the Soviet total. The breakdown of the male to female ratio is complicated. While the female population shows a rise in economic activity, the proportion of males in the economically active population increases with the population. Throughout the 1980's, the male sector of the work force represented the majority of the population in the Ukraine. In addition to the breakdown of the sexes, age also plays an important role in the statistical representation of the labor force. Each year the labor force grows older. New younger members join, but the workers who carry over have aged from the previous year. The pension age group grew from 11.7 percent in 1970 to 14.9 percent in the year 2000 (Koropeckyj, pg. 95).
The third key to measuring the labor force is level of education. "People with higher education (college level) comprise 9.6 percent of the Ukrainian labor force, compared with 10 percent for the USSR. In material production, 5.3 percent of the labor force has higher education in the Ukraine, versus 5.2 percent in the Soviet Union (Koropeckyj, pg. 95)" The statistics show that the Ukraine shared a similar statistical breakdown of higher education to that of the USSR. The similarities continue in the service sector of the economy, where 25.4 percent of the labor force has higher education compared to the Soviet Union's 25.9 percent (Koropeckyj, pg. 95). When compared to other republics, the Ukrainian level of education falls into the middle of the pack. Georgia and Armenia share the top honors for the most educated workforce (Koropeckyj, pg. 95).
The remaining statistical groups of the labor force are nationality, area of the country (specifically urban or rural sections); both only play minor roles in the statistical output of the census. Finally particular branch of the economy plays a key role in the breakdown of the collected data. Ukrainians made up 69 percent of the employment in the state sector in 1977 and 70 percent in 1987 (Koropeckyj, pg. 97). The highest branches of employment follow the most important sectors of the economy. For instance, agriculture has the highest concentration followed by education. "The large concentration of Ukrainians in education probably is due to predominantly Ukrainian-language schools in rural areas (Koropeckyj, pg. 97)." During 1988 more than 5 million workers had a second job of which half held a second position at their primary job (Koropeckyj, pg. 99). The remaining workers with second jobs looked for work in other industries. During the command economy era in the Ukraine, the focus was shifted from agriculture and education to industry. By 1985, the population of the Ukraine had a larger share engaged in industry than the USSR. The republic had 147.8 persons per 1000 of the population employed in industry, compared with 136.7 persons for the Soviet Union (Koropeckyj, pg. 102). The statistics show how the government used its hand in resource allocation and affected the labor force. Since the economy had been primarily agriculture based in the past, the new government followed the initiative of the USSR and put the majority of its efforts behind industry.
The idea of the command economy and its effects on the labor force are pretty clear. Unlike the market economy, central planning is used to run the command economy. The decisions are made by the government and are drawn up to maximize employment. Meanwhile, market economies are run by the private sector and are marked by higher unemployment but use resources more efficiently. To measure the command economy of the Ukraine, the census goes in depth breaking down the labor force and its many components. The data shows that the Ukrainian labor force is strong, remaining statistically close with the trends of the Soviet Union. The workforce is primarily comprised of men, but women also have a strong impact on it. The age of the workforce is apparent through the growing number of pension earners, both full and part time. The census data also shows that the Ukraine has a middle of the road education system, and breaks down the level of higher education, which is just above the USSR's average. The republic is one of the Unions strongest and the labor statistics show why the Ukraine is so important to the success of the Soviet Union.
1. Koropeckyj, I.S. The Ukranian Economy. Harvard University Press: Cambridge Massachusetts, 1992.