Khrushchev’s Cash-and-Goods Lotteries and the Turn Toward Positive Incentives

in The Soviet and Post-Soviet Review
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This article focuses on the Soviet government’s turn to positive incentives to play the state lottery in the late 1950s, after thirty years of coercing citizens to buy state lottery bonds under Stalin. Khrushchev discontinued the Stalinist bonds in April 1957 and, in their wake, introduced “cash-and-goods lotteries” featuring voluntary participation. The Khrushchev government identified a powerful positive incentive to buy tickets in the coveted consumer goods the lotteries offered as prizes. Citizens were no longer asked to sacrifice toward the state lottery, rather, they were encouraged to risk small sums toward potential consumer gain and the improvement of their living standards – a new way of conceptualizing Soviet citizens’ personal financial contributions to the state as the Soviet Union approached communist prosperity.




Franklyn D. Holzman, “An Estimate of the Tax Element in Soviet Bonds,” The American Economic Review, Vol. 47, No. 3 (June 1957): 390–393. See also: Franklyn D. Holzman, Soviet Taxation: The Fiscal and Monetary Problems of a Planned Economy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1955), 200–208. Holzman revised his opinion of the mass subscription bonds issued after the 1947 currency reform, suggesting they no longer performed a tax function because of the rising value of the ruble. He claimed that even a winning bondholder was unlikely to recoup the interest or principle on his investment before 1947; however, by 1956, “even if he didn’t win a lottery, in twenty years he stood to recapture a real nest egg, possibly worth two or three times what he had paid for it.” See: Franklyn D. Holzman, “The Soviet Bond Hoax,” Problems of Communism, Vol. 6, No. 5 (1957): 49.


Alec Nove, “Toward a ‘Communist Welfare State’?” Problems of Communism, no. 1, vol. IX (Jan-Feb, 1960): 9.


Sheila Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism: Ordinary Life in Extraordinary Times: Soviet Russia in the 1930s (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 102. On Stakhanovites’ earning potential, see: Donald Filtzer, Soviet Workers and Stalinist Industrialization: The Formation of Modern Soviet Production Relations, 1928–1941 (Armonk, N.Y.: M.E. Sharpe, 1986), 186.


Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism, 95–102.


 See: Vera S. Dunham, In Stalin’s Time: Middleclass Values in Soviet Fiction (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1976), 3–23.


V. I. Lenin, “K derevenskoi bednote,” Polnoe sobranie sochinenii, tom 7 (Moskva: Gosudarstvennoe izdatel’stvo politicheskoe literatury, 1959), 163.


Beginning in 1933, the nominal sum invested in the bond was deducted from the overall prize amount, for example: if a 100–ruble bond won a prize of 500 rubles, the bearer would receive a prize of 400 rubles plus the nominal sum invested. See: S. I. Usyshkin, Material k zaimu “vtoroi piatiletke” (Moskva: ogiz rsfsr tresta “Poligrafkniga”, 1933), 8–9.


James R. Millar, “History and Analysis of Soviet Domestic Bond Policy,” Soviet Studies, Vol. 27, No. 4 (October 1975): 600.


Mikhail Zoshchenko, “A Tragicomedy,” in Nervous People and Other Satires, ed. Hugh McLean, trans. Maria Gordon and Hugh McLean (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1975), 213. mopr was the acronym of Mezhdunarodnaia Organizatsiia Pomoshchi Revoliutsioneram, the International Red Aid, a relief organization for international political prisoners of class warfare and a socialist cause célèbre.


Ironside, “Rubles for Victory,” 815–816.


Ironside, “Rubles for Victory,” 818.


In 1951, the word “reconstruction” was dropped from the bonds’ title.


Ironside, “Rubles for Victory,” 822.


Randi Cox, “‘All this can be yours!’: Soviet Commercial Advertising and the Social Construction of Space, 1928–1956,” in The Landscape of Stalinism: The Art and Ideology of Soviet Space, eds. Eric Naiman and Evgeny Dobrenko (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2003), 125.


Lewis H. Siegelbaum, Cars for Comrades: The Life of the Soviet Automobile (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2008) 188–189.


L. Vysokoostrovskii, “Zakhazhivaite,” Sovetskaia Rossiia, June 7, 1962, 2.


  • A 1958 Lottery Ticket

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  • 1948 Mass Subscription Bond Propaganda “We are helping to fulfill the Five-Year Plan in four years! We are subscribing to the new loan!” In the background, a 500-ruble issue of the Third State Bond for the Reconstruction and Development of the National Economy.

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  • Win a Car with Your Spare Change! – “ Little daughter, buy me some soap, Papa some matches, and a lottery ticket with the change…” – “Mama, here’s the change…”

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  • Winners and Hopeful Winners (top) “Of course we will win a Volga!” two drivers, A. Shershnev and A. Turkov decide among themselves; (middle) “I have a prize!” says Mariia Petrovna Mazaeva; (bottom) “Patience, patience, of course we will win,” pensioners M. Lialechkin and I. Stepanov console themselves.

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