How Did the Soviet Union Influence Family Life?

Many countries offer tax credits to families with children, but that doesn't mean people without children will be financially penalized.

In an effort to increase its population, the Soviet Union imposed a tax on men and married women without children.
In an effort to increase its population, the Soviet Union imposed a tax on men and married women without children.

However, in the former Soviet Union, just such a tax existed in an effort to encourage citizens to have children and thus increase the country's population. This so-called tax on childlessness began in 1941, when Soviet leader Joseph Stalin imposed a 6 percent levy on men between the ages of 25 and 50 and married women between 20 and 45 who didn't have children.

The plan was meant in part to make up for losses incurred during World War II, when the Soviet Union lost approximately 15 percent of its population, or nearly 17 million people (although some estimates are as high as 27 million).

Some individuals were exempt from the tax, including many students, parents who had lost children in the war, and people living below a certain income threshold.

The tax remained in place for five decades, diminishing and finally being declared defunct with the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. Russia continues to struggle with concerns about negative population growth (which is when a nation's death rate surpasses its birth rate combined with its immigration rate). There has even been talk of bringing back the childlessness tax, but as of 2020, no such plans are in the works.

Soviet strangeness:

  • Fears of a nuclear war prompted many Soviets to dig tunnels and fallout bunkers, including underground routes from the Kremlin to train stations.

  • Speaking of digging, between 1970 and 1992, the Soviet Union (and then Russia) drilled the Kola Superdeep Borehole in the northwestern part of the country. It is the world's deepest hole, going down 7.5 miles (12 km ) into the Earth's crust.

  • To avoid embarrassing his nation with his love of an American beverage, Soviet war hero Georgy Zhukov had Coca-Cola manufactured in a clear form, known as "White Coke."

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