Uzbekistan - Poverty and wealth

Under the Soviet regime, Uzbekistan was arguably a land of economic equality, although among the poorest republics of the Soviet Union. The vast majority of the population was state-employed, no private initiative was allowed, and central funds were allocated comparatively

Exchange rates: Uzbekistan
Uzbekistani soms per US$1
Jan 2001 325.0
2000 141.4
1999 111.9
1998 110.95
1997 75.8
1996 41.1
SOURCE: CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Uzbekistan N/A N/A N/A 1,338 1,007
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
Russia 2,555 3,654 3,463 3,668 2,138
Turkmenistan N/A N/A N/A 1,154 486
SOURCE: United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

equitably as free health care, higher education, pensions, and other benefits. The only exceptions of the modest standard of living were the nomenklatura (the communist party elite) and the organized crime and black market economy players. The market reforms in the 1990s generated new wealth for a limited number of entrepreneurs who were well connected to the government yet understood the economic hardships of everyday Uzbeki life. In 1995 the country's Gini index was 33.3, lower than that of the United States and the United Kingdom but higher than in most former communist countries. Due to the government's policies of protectionism and import substitution, unemployment is still a minor problem, but the loss-making state industries and struggling agricultural sector are no longer able to sustain the living standards of the 1980s. Monthly salaries in the state manufacturing sector reached as low as US$34 in 1994, and had increased only slightly by 2001. Inflation, at 29 percent in 1999, is also a concern. Many Uzbekistanis suffer from problems other than financial insolvency such as a poor health system, the lack of safe water, epidemics, and excessive soil pollution and desertification. These problems are most apparent in the intensely farmed river valleys, where almost two-thirds of the population are concentrated. On many occasions throughout the 1990s, the government has appealed to international organizations for aid in dealing with severe droughts. In particular,

Distribution of Income or Consumption by Percentage Share: Uzbekistan
Lowest 10% 3.1
Lowest 20% 7.4
Second 20% 12.0
Third 20% 16.7
Fourth 20% 23.0
Highest 20% 40.9
Highest 10% 25.2
Survey year: 1993
Note: This information refers to income shares by percentiles of the population and is ranked by per capita income.
SOURCE: 2000 World Development Indicators [CD-ROM].

Household Consumption in PPP Terms
Country All food Clothing and footwear Fuel and power a Health care b Education b Transport & Communications Other
Uzbekistan 34 3 13 4 7 9 30
United States 13 9 9 4 6 8 51
Russia 28 11 16 7 15 8 16
Turkmenistan 32 6 14 6 18 11 14
Data represent percentage of consumption in PPP terms.
a Excludes energy used for transport.
b Includes government and private expenditures.
SOURCE: World Bank. World Development Indicators 2000.

Karakalpakstan has been an environmental disaster area plagued by the drying up of the Aral Sea and unprecedented scarcity of water.

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