Everyday Life in Eastern Europe
Rudé Pravo, Housing
Rudé Pravo was the Czechoslovak equivalent of the Soviet newspaper Pravda. Both were the official daily news publications of their respective Communist governments; both depicted the official version of truth about current events and conditions. Rudé Pravo had a daily circulation of over one million, a fact attributable not to its popularity but rather to the reality that it was the official daily newspaper in a system that aimed to control the dissemination of information (it is said that few people really read it).
The following document is a Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS) summary of a Rudé Pravo report on the housing situation in Czechoslovakia. FBIS was a non-covert information unit of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency that collected, translated, and disseminated open news from foreign information sources (it still exists and with these functions, but it 2005 it was placed under the Director of National Intelligence). This document provides a view into an important aspect of everyday life for millions of Eastern Europeans.
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"Results of Housing 'Microcensus' Assessed," September 22, 1988, Rudé Pravo, trans. Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS).
Primary Source— Excerpt
[Summary] A survey of household incomes and the standard and cost of housing was carried out in 2 percent of all households in the CSSR last year. The results of this microcensus, which surveyed the situation in 1986, confirm that the standard of housing continues to improve, even though the shortage of apartments lingers on.
Both the average size of apartments and the average number of rooms per apartment have increased since the 1980 census. Whereas in 1970 only 1 in 12 apartments had 4 rooms or more, in 1986 this was true of every sixth apartment. The changes in quality are even more pronounced. Some 83 percent of all apartments had a bathroom or a shower and a lavatory in 1986; only 1 in 15 apartments was either without a bathroom or without a lavatory, and only 1 in 10 apartments had neither. The proportion of poorly-equipped apartments in Slovakia continues to be higher but the disparity is diminishing, in view of the greater volume of new housing construction in Slovakia.
According to the results of the microcensus, each person inhabited an average of 15 square meters of floor space in 1986, and there was an average of 1.15 persons per room. Both figures mark an evident improvement compared with the situation in 1970. In cooperative apartments, floor space per person averaged 13.1 square meters, in rented apartments 13.3 square meters, and in apartments in family homes 17.4 square meters.
Whereas more than 70 percent of apartments in newly built family homes have 4 rooms or more, there are only about 15 percent such apartments in new communal or cooperative housing.
Although the data on the microcensus do not make it possible to quantify the existing shortage of apartments, "the decline in the number and proportion of apartments inhabited by two or more households indicates that the unsatisfied subjective demand for apartments, which in 1980 was estimated at 320,000 apartments, declined by between 10 and 15 percent. However, exact data will be available only following the population and housing census planned for 1990.
How to Cite this Source
"Rudé Pravo, Housing," Making the History of 1989, Item #274, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/274 (accessed February 27 2015, 2:31 am).