In contrast with the previous decade, this period saw a very centralized, autocratic development of the economy. During the 1930s, a Socialist economic system was being constructed, the first in the world. This new system was characterized by the priority it gave to the development of heavy industry, its extremely centralized management, the drafting of detailed five-year plans for all industrial and agricultural branches, strong administrative control over the realization of these plans, and the rapid mobilization of massive human and material resources when needed for the most important Soviet projects. Simultaneously, the actual performance of the Soviet economy became more difficult for outsiders to interpret as Soviet statistics were increasingly distorted. On the eve of World War II the country became richer due to its accelerated industrialization, but the majority of the Soviet people still lived in villages and found themselves poorer and consuming less than in the 1920s.
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