How do Soviet young people spend their free time?

Grigori Reznichenko ::: Young people in the USSR. Answers to questions

In a million different ways-each as he pleases. They can pick and choose, and even do nothing if that is what they want.

But one thing is significant. Soviet sociologists, unlike their Western counterparts, include social work among free time activities. And with good rea­son, too.

A distinctive feature of Soviet youth is their active participation in social work and public life. Accord­ing to sociologists, 43.4 per cent of the country's young people are involved in the work of public bodies.

They also take an active part in the work of the trade union committees at enterprises, offices and colleges. More than 30 million members of the Kom­somol do social work regularly in the time free from their job or studies.

It has been estimated that working youth spend no less than one-third of their free time on studies or improving professional skills. As a result, the percentage of people who combine work and stud­ies, according to an international survey, is 3-6 times higher in the Soviet Union than in the econom­ically developed capitalist countries.

This trend has produced results the significance of which is hard to overestimate: 85 out of every 100 working young people in the Soviet Union have a higher or secondary education, and in industry this figure is even higher-94 out of every 100. Let us now turn to "pure" leisure, that is, time not taken up with furthering one's education or with social work.

There are probably as many ways of spending it as there are young people. Sociologists have, how­ever, made some attempts at classification.

They find that the most popular pastime is read­ing (78.5 per cent of those polled). That is not sur­prising, since every 6th book published in the USSR is intended for the young. The 350,000 public li­braries in the country have more than 4,200 million books and pamphlets to offer. Three publishing houses which put out books for young people pro­duced 650 titles in 52,220,000 copies in 1977.

Next on the list of leisure activities are theatre- and movie-going-75.9 per cent. This is followed by sports and tourism, the popularity of which has been rapidly growing. Some 20 million young people attend amateur art groups, and 17.5 million go in for tinkering with things scientific and technical.

About 20 per cent said that they loved dancing. However, rock groups seem to be losing their popu­larity while discotheques are becoming increasingly popular, with money for opening them being provid­ed from local government budgets. The state is also expanding the production of hi-fi radio equipment and LP records.

Millions enjoy collecting-stamps, badges, coins, books, and records, or keeping goldfish, pigeons and other birds. For some this is a passion, while others are only following the fad.

And finally, at the bottom of the list there are the half of one per cent who prefer doing nothing. That's their affair, and may they be happy doing it.