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Examining Migration within Russia

Comparing age-specific migration patterns and migration in central and peripheral municipalities
Source: DarthArt

There has been little research about migration in Russia related to age and destination, making it difficult to make comparisons between Russia and other European countries. Using data from the 2010 Russian census and the Russian Federal State Statistics Service, Liliya Karachurina and Nikita Mkrtchyan (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Department of Demography) looked at how age-specific migration patterns in Europe and the United States are reflected in Russia and compared the age profiles of net migration in central and peripheral municipalities.

For this research, municipal formations were divided into “centres” and “periphery MF”. “Centres” included capital cities of regions and the suburban municipalities surrounding them. In the case where more than one municipality bordered a centre, then this also belonged to the centre. All remaining municipalities in a region were part of the periphery.

Karachurina and Mkrtchyan found net migration surpluses in regions’ centres and net migration deficits in the peripheral areas. Like in other countries, this is largely related to the movement of young and middle-aged people. Migration was highest between the ages of 15-19 as students moved within a region (intraregional), mainly to regional centres from rural areas and small peripheral cities. Compared to other age groups, interregional migration is more common among the group aged 20-29, which is often comprised of both education migrants and recent graduates looking for a job. Young people do not typically return to the peripheral municipalities, but stay in the new locations to search for jobs and partners.

The authors estimate that for each one student from a village or small city going to another region’s centre for educational purposes (interregional), there are three migrants moving to the centre of their region for the same reason (intraregional). However, municipalities with large and mid-sized cities are able to keep young people from moving, while the smaller and more rural cities cannot.

What is of particular interest are the municipalities within the region of Moscow. Due to the large number of multi-storey buildings in the areas neighbouring Moscow, interregional migrants and Moscow residents are attracted to move to these areas. This does not include students and retirees. The latter group receives additional payments from the city’s budget, which deters them from moving to peripheral territories. Actual moves that happen are often not recorded since official registration in Moscow is not cancelled in order to continue to receive pension payments and health care services.

From their research, age-specific migration patterns in Russia are similar to those in other countries in relation to mobility at different stages of life. However, the age at which Russians move for education purposes tend to be earlier while it is later and for a longer period in other countries. Unlike in the United States and Europe, the outflow of people from large urban centres is still low; migration to the suburbs is not very high and is related more with urban sprawl and not suburbanisation; and migration of the elderly is rare.

Author(s) of the original publication: 
Emily Lines