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Differential urbanisation in Russia

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Rapid yet delayed urbanisation close to that seen in the Third World, a history full of troubles, and a demographic condition that today has a Western look – such a combination makes the Russian case not an easy one for the differential urbanisation theory. Testing the latter for over 100 years by a period of time and population dynamic (with a sliding city class scale), the authors find that the all–Russian advances in the urbanisation stage were interrupted twice by the cataclysms of the century. After its third start, the stage lasted until the 1980s when signs of polarisation reversal were observed (this time in migration). The recent crisis was marked first by a steep turn to a premature counter–urbanisation, and then by a ‘swing back’. On ‘average’, the reversal looks most ‘normal’ for the 1990s’ stage.

Several regional and local studies proved that the dates of stages depend on the general and the urban development level, although the relationship may be far from linear or even paradoxical (in the South and in the East of Russia). Also, the size–distance regularity is observed for the case of the Moscow agglomeration, prescribed by the differential urbanisation theory during the polarisation reversal stage.

All these lead to the conclusion that the theory can explain the Russian trends when they are not deeply distorted by some extraordinary events, which, however, were and are so common in this country.
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Keywords: Differential urbanisation; Russia; net–migration; population change; post–Soviet crisis; urban size class

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia

Publication date: 2003-02-01

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