Country Listing

Tajikistan Table of Contents


Standard of Living

Beginning in the late 1980s, the troubled state of the Soviet economy in general led to shortages of consumer necessities in Tajikistan, including flour, meat, sugar, and soap. In every year from 1986 through 1989, the value of per capita consumption of goods and services was substantially lower there than in any other Soviet republic. The government in Dushanbe began rationing food early in 1991, but Tajikistan's consumption of meat and dairy products already had been the lowest in the Soviet Union for the previous six years. In 1990 annual per capita meat consumption was twenty-six kilograms in Tajikistan, compared with sixty-seven kilograms for the Soviet Union as a whole. In the same year, annual per capita milk consumption was 161 kilograms in Tajikistan, compared with 358 kilograms for the Soviet Union as a whole.

The national consumer price index went up about 6,000 percent in 1993 alone (see table 10, Appendix). In 1994 breadlines began forming at Dushanbe's single bakery at five in the morning, and the demand often exceeded the supply. Meanwhile, most state stores stood empty as bazaars offered food at prohibitively high prices. Such conditions worsened in the mid-1990s. Although at times bread (whose price was still government subsidized), meat, rice, soap, and other commodities were rationed, basic necessities often were difficult to obtain. In 1995 a 150 percent increase in bread prices, meant as a step toward price decontrol, had the side effect of compounding the difficulty of maintaining an adequate diet. Fuel deliveries in Dushanbe were irregular, and city apartments were cold in the winter.

By the end of the Soviet era, the great majority of Tajikistan's citizens had extremely low incomes even by Soviet standards. Industrial wages ranked second lowest among the republics in 1990. The income of peasants on collective farms was the lowest among all republics; for those on state farms, it was the second to lowest. The situation did not improve in the first post-Soviet years. At the end of 1994, the average monthly wage was 25,000 rubles, or US$7.30, and wages often went unpaid for several months. The maximum weekly wage was set at US$19.30 by a government policy that automatically deposited any payment above that level in the recipient's bank savings account.

By the 1980s, housing had become a serious problem, especially in Dushanbe. The "Housing-93" project of that period promised to provide accommodations by 1993 to families that were on the waiting lists in 1988, but construction fell far behind. By 1990, some 150,000 families were waiting to get an apartment in the capital, a situation that contributed to the outbreak of riots there in February of that year. The housing shortage in the northern province of Leninobod was similarly acute.

Data as of March 1996