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High population mobility, mainly in the form of out-migration, is a characteristic feature of the post-Soviet Russian North. As subsidies from the centre were significantly cut, living standards and the number of inhabitants in many Russian peripheries declined considerably. Nevertheless, there are also prospering regions and industry sectors in these parts of Russia, which are often related to and dependent on the exploitation of natural resources. After introducing general Soviet and post-Soviet mobility and migration patterns in the north of Russia, this article examines the mobility behaviour of oil workers. The analyses are based on a case study of an oil company (SeverTEK) from the Komi Republic and incorporate different statistical approaches. The purpose of the study is to assess past, present and future mobility behaviour of those in northern regions who are benefitting from post-Soviet transition and will most likely contribute most to a positive development of the Russian North. The results show that the surveyed employees of SeverTEK have migrated in the past mainly from Siberia, the Far East, and the now independent countries of the former Soviet Union to northern and central parts of European Russia. The present mobility behaviour is strongly characteristic of shift work employment with long-distance commuting. An analysis of intended migration indentifies strong potentials for future migrations among the oil workers of the case study. It appears that many employees are ready to leave northern regions as soon as their job situation allows it. Therefore, unlike in other resource peripheries such as Western Australia, long-distance commuting is in Russia not used as a decentralization measure; instead it offers opportunities for reducing the problematically high population density of the post-Soviet North.
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Keywords: Russia; Russian North; migration; mobility; oil industry; peripheries

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Joensuu, P.O. Box 111, FIN-80101 Joensuu, Finland., Email:

Publication date: 2009-09-01

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