Overview of labor-related laws in the USSR (1923-1986) and the GDR (1953-1986)

Today’s working conditions have considerably been shaped by regulations adopted in the past. Indices of the International Labor Organization’s Legislative Series offer an overview of changes in labor-related legislature on an annual basis from a historical perspective. However, the country or area-specific analysis of these changes throughout time is challenging due to the data representation format (i.e., for the respective year, all countries and their legislative changes are listed alphabetically in a PDF file).

In the summer of 2023, three CRC 1342 sub-projects, namely Project A03 – “Worlds of Labour: Coverage and Generosity of Employment Law”, Project A04 – “Global Developments in Health Care Systems” and Project B06 – “Resource Boom and Social Policy in Authoritarian Regimes. A Means of Securing Regime Stability?”, jointly extracted the relevant information on the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic into two separate Excel files and published them on the Discuss Data platform:



Following the initial manual extraction of indices by Heiner Fechner and colleagues from the CRC project A03, Jeusa Hamer and Alexander Polte developed a dedicated program to export the information from the PDF files into Excel documents. This extraction allowed for a country-specific overview and more user-friendly analysis of legislative regulations throughout time. The data digitalization process was finalized by data preparation and documentation, accomplished with the support of the CRC B06 and A04 projects. The selection of the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic is in accord with the regional focus of the Discuss Data platform.

Discuss Data (www.discuss-data.net) is an open repository for storing, sharing, and curating research data on Eastern Europe, South Caucasus, and Central Asia. It goes beyond other repositories by providing an interactive online platform for discussing and assessing research data quality. Launched in 2020, with financial support from the German Research Foundation (DFG), this platform is operated by the Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen (FSO) and the Göttingen State and University Library (SUB).

Dr. Gulnaz Isabekova