Has socialism failed? An analysis of health indicators under socialism

Int J Health Serv. 1992;22(4):583-601. doi: 10.2190/B2TP-3R5M-Q7UP-DUA2.


This article analyzes the widely held assumption in academia and the mainstream press that capitalism has proven superior to socialism in responding to human needs. The author surveys the health conditions of the world's populations, continent by continent, and shows that, contrary to dominant ideology, socialism and socialist forces have been, for the most part, better able to improve health conditions than have capitalism and capitalist forces. In the underdeveloped world, socialist forces and regimes have, more frequently than not, improved health and social indicators better than capitalist forces and regimes, and in the developed world, countries with strong socialist forces have been better able to improve health conditions than those countries lacking or with weak socialist forces. The socialist experience has, of course, also included negative developments that have negated important components of the socialist project. Still, the evidence presented in this article shows that the historical experience of socialism has not been one of failure. To the contrary: it has been, for the most part, more successful than capitalism in improving the health conditions of the world's populations.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Developing Countries
  • Economic Competition
  • Europe
  • Global Health
  • Health Services Research*
  • Health Status Indicators*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant Mortality
  • Latin America
  • Life Expectancy
  • Ownership / economics
  • Political Systems*
  • Private Sector
  • Public Sector
  • Social Conditions
  • Socialism*
  • Socioeconomic Factors