Chinese President Hu Jintao is visiting Moscow today to discuss increasing petroleum exports to China. That’s if he doesn’t first blow his budget on a hotel room in Moscow. The Russian oil boom has propelled Moscow to the top of the list of most expensive cities in the world. But the concentration of wealth in the former USSR capital belies the truth about the true state of the former Soviet Union.
Today the fifteen countries that once constituted this superpower stand at odds with one another in terms of economic opportunity, human rights, and development. The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are soaring as members of the European Union and NATO. Estonia was ranked top in the World Liberty Index, with its Baltic neighbors not far behind. Meanwhile Turkmenistan’s eccentric (and recently deceased) President Niyazov spent his country’s resources cultivating world class repression, bested only by North Korea.
Elsewhere, oil resources elsewhere combined with a bungled move to private markets after the fall of communism have produced a kleptocracy across the former Soviet states. Outside of the Baltics, all of the former Soviet states now rank amongst the most corrupt countries in the world. On the bright side, communism does seem to have some positive lasting effects when it comes to equality. Five of the top ten most equal countries are from the former USSR.
Having shed the planned economy, these countries have all taken wildly different paths. But what if the USSR existed today? Statastic used several different development indicators and weighted them for each country based on population (one caveat: Russia constitutes 50% of the population of the former USSR). These statistics were combined into a new rating for USSR based on the latest survey data for various development indicators.
Taken as a whole, the USSR is not a very nice place to live 16 years after the fall of communism. Corruption in the USSR is comparable to that in Libya or Rwanda. The countries of the USSR today have less economic and individual freedom than the Democratic Republic of Congo. Even the USSR’s crumbling socialized medicine contributes to a mediocre score in the United Nations Human Development Index. Today the USSR ranks at the same level as its long-forgotten communist friend, China.