About the issue of the “Population and Economics” devoted to interaction of population and the economy in geographical space
expand article infoTatyana G. Nefedova
‡ Institute of Geography, Russian Academy of Science, Moscow, Russia
Open Access

This issue was prepared mainly by geographers. Almost all of the articles are one way or another devoted to the role of space in the development of society, or rather, a wide range of relations between the population and the economy through space.

The first article by A.I. Treyvish is called “Geographical space as a mediator between population and the economy.” It represents theoretical understanding of the main long-term trends and the relationship between the spatial organization of the population and its economic activity. The author shows that the value of space does not decrease over time, but changes and even increases. With seemingly obvious close connection of the population with the economy in each particular place, space acts as an integrator and disintegrator of social phenomena. This is due to the category of accessibility, differences in population distribution, types of activities that demand resources, and places with the supply of these resources. In some cases, space can “shrink”, unite, integrate society within a given territory, in others – separate the economy and society or their parts. The article is saturated with author’s calculations, estimates and graphic models. The change of spatial orientations is shown on the map of Russia by the displacement of calculated centers of gravity, or centroids, of different “masses”: population, retail trade, industry, and from 1960 to 2017. It is shown that the geography of post-industrial societies, compared with those of industrial society, depends less on the localization of the fixed capital and more on human capital while strengthening its spatial mobility.

Some theoretical provisions of this article are developed by other authors in subsequent articles of the issue.

P.L. Kirillov and A.G. Makhrova consider changes in population distribution between 2002 and 2017 at the level of macroregions and administrative units of the Russian Federation. The general vector of the settlement concentration to the south-west and towards the metropolitan and large-city areas of post-industrial development with attractive labour markets is demonstrated on the maps. With the trend of stopping the natural growth in the country as a whole during 2017, the number of regions with natural population decline increases sharply. The intra-Russian spatial gap in the stages of demographic transition moved to leading positions only the republics of the North Caucasus, South Siberia, and Yakutia, where demographic behaviour of the local population is associated with extended reproduction,. Meanwhile, the “depopulation zone” includes economically depressed regions with an inherited and difficult to modernize industrial burden: regions of Central Russia, the Volga region, North-West, partly Siberia and the Far East. The authors predict strengthening of interregional polarization of settlement, while, unlike the period of 2002-2017, the main factor will not be accelerated growth of certain territories, but negative population dynamics in the main group of regions.

The same topic is developed in the article by N.V. Mkrtchyan, which shows spatial differences in the intensity of migration growth within the administrative units of the Russian Federation at the level of municipal or urban districts, as well as the graphic age profiles of migration balance by geographical area and differences between suburban and peripheral regions. Suburban and peripheral municipalities differ both in terms of the overall results of the migration balance and in terms of the age structure of population inflow and outflow. Suburban rural areas are largely a transit area for rural-urban migrants. At the same time, suburban areas became the scene for suburbanization processes only in separate urban agglomerations. The periphery of regions is the territory of continuous and intensive migration outflow, especially young people. It has limited attractiveness only for the population of pre-retirement and retirement ages. Meanwhile, the disparities in the intra-regional migration patterns are much more pronounced than in the inter-regional.

These trends of settlement system transformation in Russia cause contradictory reaction of the expert community, in which there is no agreement on what a modern federal spatial development policy in the area of settlement transformation should be. After all, the aspiration of the population to large centers is connected not only with objective factors, but also with failures of the management system: unfavorable institutional conditions for the development of small and medium-sized businesses in small towns and rural areas and overly centralized budgetary policies that deprive local authorities of the possibility to invest in social and economic development. Some aspects of this discussion, which took place after the publication of the draft Spatial Development Strategy of Russia, and the problems of adequate consideration of settlement transformations, are given in the article by O.V. Kuznetsova. It examines the contradictory effects of the current settlement transformation and the lack of information to assess the current situation. Lack of statistical data in the context of urban agglomerations and inadequacy of sociological surveys to identify the motives of spatial mobility of the population obscure the real picture of settlement transformation. This does not allow to correctly assess the objective factors of such transformation and the factors associated with the imperfection of the system of public administration.

One of the important reasons which influence the spatial mobility of the population is the stability of regional differentiation in the poverty level of the population of Russia, which is shown in N.V. Zubarevich’s article. It presents data reflecting the changes in the influence of various poverty factors (urbanization, demographic factors, income, cost of living in the regions) on its regional indicators in the early 2000s and in 2017. The stability of strong regional differences, primarily due to income and demographic factors, is proved. The nonlinearity of dynamics of the poverty level in the periods of economic growth and crises is revealed. At the same time, the role of such an important factor of poverty in revealing its spatial differentiation as the level of income adjusted for the subsistence minimum increased in the 2010s. In the article, The analysis of shifts in the poverty regional profile when the absolute criterion of its measurement is replaced by the relative one, is carried out in the article.

Employment is an important parameter linking the population and the economy, and territorial differences in labour markets show the role of space in their interaction. These issues are addressed in E.V. Antonov’s article, almost for the first time summarizing a large volume of continuous research of labour markets of cities in Russia. It considers the main stages of their formation, shows the dynamics of the number of employed and job-seekers in cities of different size, reveals structural changes in employment on large and medium-sized enterprises in the same groups of cities. Differences of local labour markets, which depend on the population of the municipality, level of economic activity, geographical position, provision of jobs are considered. For fractional municipalities a map of Russia is made that shows the ratio of the number of official jobs to the working age population, which enables identifying spatial differences, including “north-south”, “town-village”. The contradictions of the contemporary labour market are shown: economic recession and labour demand decrease are combined with the withdrawal of a large number of labour resources, partly due to demographic reasons, strongly differentiated at the regional and municipal levels.

With increasing levels of poverty and unemployment, as well as in the absence of the necessary institutional conditions for the development of small businesses, informal employment, including in rural areas, often becomes the answer, not only for the rural but also the urban population. These issues are addressed in T.G. Nefedova and U.G. Nikolayeva’s article, which shows the multifaceted nature of rural subsidiary farms, which perform both a usual function of food production for own consumption and socio-communication function of maintaining reciprocal family relations, and can be a cell of commercial informal market production, and is also a recreational opportunity for urban residents. However, the spatial diversity of all these functions, including not only productive and social functions, but also those related to mobility of the population between the city and village, are very poorly taken into account by statistics. Since the subsidiary economy also serves to some extent as a bridge between the population and the economy, its spatial distribution largely reflects demographic and economic characteristics of society in different regions of the country, as shown in the article on maps. At the same time, a key factor in the sustainability of such farms and their specialization is human capital, often depending on the degree of of the rural population decline and the composition of the urban residents who in the summer months fill not only suburbs but also remote rural areas.

The interconnected series of studies in this issue is completed by A.V. Rusanov’s article dedicated to garden plots of urban residents and increasing number of second homes of urban dwellers in rural areas in European countries. While the garden plots, mainly in the former socialist countries, still have the function of self-sustaining with the transition to environmentally-friendly food products, the second homes of urban residents serve as additional housing in the suburbs and, if in remote areas, they increasingly carry out tourist and recreational and cultural function. These roles of second homes for the Europeans make them similar to Russian suburban dachas and dachas located in remote resorts, as well as to houses bought by intellectuals in villages as dachas.

T.G. Nefedova