Doctors and the State in the Soviet Union by Michael Ryan (auth.)

By Michael Ryan (auth.)

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In the UK the range of state remuneration for the medical profession can be regarded as comparatively narrow, provided that the personnel in training grades are excluded. An impartial observer might conclude that the average general practitioner need not be unduly envious of the salaries drawn by senior staff who are engaged in research work, teaching or administration. In the Soviet Union, on the other hand, the economic circumstances and general life-styles of such doctors are comparatively remote from those of the rank-andfile.

23 As to the future, it is conceivable that the recently announced pay increases would have the effect of attracting more young men into medicine. However that may be, the sex ratio among medical students constitutes an entirely subordinate issue in the context of the operation of national policies which bear on admission to higher educational establishments. It is not unduly fanciful to say that the two broad-gauged measures which will be considered below have a fundamental feature in common with the previously cited examples of social engineering from the 1920s and 1930s.

Given the absence of an indigenous school of radical sociology, our understanding of the character and extent of inequality in Soviet society derives from the painstaking research carried out by Western scholars. As Mervyn Matthews has demonstrated in an important study, Low-paid Employees 25 the 'top people' and their families enjoy a wide variety of privileges, the value of which tends to increase in direct relation to achieved status. Exclusive access to otherwise unobtainable goods and services represents a very significant addition to their command over resources and hence their life-style.

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