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Urban and rural population change in Estonia: patterns of differentiated and undifferentiated urbanisation

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A main postulate of the concept of differential urbanisation is the similarity of the process of urbanisation across countries of different social contexts, with towns going through a three–stage growth cycle – urbanisation, polarisation reversal and counter–urbanisation. The aim of this paper is to analyse whether the claims of the model hold true in Estonia. The main results of the analyses show that towns of different sizes have followed a similar or undifferentiated pattern of growth, which peaks in the immediate post–War decades and slows down thereafter. The major demarcation line runs rather between urban and rural areas. However, the stability of the rural population and a decrease of urban population growth rates led step by step towards population deconcentration or counter–urbanisation in Estonia, being fully evident in the 1990s. Immigration kept large cities growing during the Soviet period and emigration was the major factor in urban population losses in the 1990s.

Keywords: Differential urbanisation; Estonia; external migration; internal migration

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Tartu, Estonia

Publication date: February 1, 2003


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