Poverty, like unemployment, is not a subject on which the Soviet government publishes statistics or encourages scholarship, but living standards are too much a matter of both official and public concern to be totally clothed in secrecy. Mervyn Matthews, an old hand at the game, frankly recognizes the limitations of his endeavor and then does what he can, supplementing scattered Soviet studies and figures with samizdat material, the testimony of emigrés, and personal observation. His substantial monograph leaves little doubt that real poverty, under almost any definition, exists in the U.S.S.R. and, reform or no reform, is not likely to be effaced in the Gorbachev era.
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