Shifts in interregional proportions in population settlement over the territory of Russia in 2002–2017
expand article infoPavel L. Kirillov, Alla G. Makhrova
‡ Faculty of Geography, the Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia
Open Access


The article deals with the trends of population size changes in the regions of the Russian Federation between 2002 and 2017 on the basis of data of all-Russian population censuses and current statistics. Components of population growth (natural and migratory movement of the population) are analyzed. In order to take into account the current situation of population size changes in the regions, which are largely of a “turning point” nature and partly inconsistent with the medium-term dynamics since the 2002 Census, the analysis is focused on the period from 2014 to 2017.

The paper presents estimates of population size shifts at regional and macro-regional levels, identifies general and local growth centers and depopulation zones. Conclusions are drawn about general shifts in the proportions of population settlement over the territory of Russia and in certain macro-regions (federal districts). General conclusions about the trends of population redistribution across the territory of the country are given in the final part of the study.


population dynamics, population resettlement, natural growth, migration.

JEL Codes: O15, J11

Introduction and Problem Statement

The latest transformation of the population settlement pattern of Russia and redistribution of resettlement potential over the territory of the country have already been the object of keen interest from a number of researches for several decades. In papers devoted to research of the proportions of population settlement, there is a rare unity in explanation of the factors of these processes (Zubarevich and Safronov 2014; Zubarevich 2014; Mkrtchyan 2011, etc.). Researchers mainly refer to the presence of large cities, urban agglomerations and population concentration or, what is, in fact, the same, migration attractiveness of territories, level of development of labour markets.

The established set of factors is also confirmed by more detailed intraregional analysis of demographic growth factors and the quality of the regional “settlement environment” (Makhrova et al. 2016; Karachurina and Mkrtchyan 2016; Golubchikov and Makhrova 2013).

The system of such factors is complemented by a factor of natural population growth, which has been rather sustainable until recently, however, in recent years it has begun to be leveled over the country and turned into a challenge to the future population dynamics and, as a consequence, a potential threat to the further sustainability of the national settlement system. The need to revise the conceptual development of settlement pattern has been largely articulated (Yusin 2016; Nefedova and Treyvish 2017), however, the actualization of these issues remains on the periphery of regional, territorial and urban policy of the state. In part, such priorities can be implemented within the framework of the spatial development strategy of the Russian Federation and a number of other key documents with pronounced spatial content.

Results of the study

Brief description of the resettlement system of Russia

As of the beginning of 2017, the Russian settlement pattern was represented by 1,112 cities, 1,192 urban-type settlements and over 150,000 rural settlements. The total population of the country living in them amounted to 146.8 million people, of which 109.0 thousand people (74.3%) belong to the urban population, i.e. live in cities and urban-type settlements.

With an average population density of 8.6 pers/km2 in the country as a whole, this figure varies considerably across the territory (even at the federal district level it varies from 1 person in the Far Eastern Federal District to more than 60 pers/km2 in the Central Federal District), which serves as the basis for the allocation of macrozones of settlement - the main settlement belt and macrozone of discrete settlement located outside of it. The conventional border between these zones is drawn according to the isodense corresponding to the average population density of 2 pers/km2 (Fig. 1).

Figure 1.

Population density, 2017. Source: compiled according to Rosstat data.

Since 2002, the network of settlements in Russia has not undergone significant relative changes due to the inertia of settlement, but during this period there have been shaped a steady trend of change of spatial macro-proportions in the distribution of the population over the territory of the country.

Population dynamics

In general, from 2002 to 2017 the number of permanent population within the modern territory of Russia (taking into account Crimea and Sevastopol) decreased from 147.6 million to 146.8 million people, i.e. the total decline was 0.5%. At the same time, the dynamics was not constant both in terms of time and space (Table 1). The minimum population size of the country within its current borders at 145.1 million people was recorded in 2008–2009. The following year, according to the 2010 census, the population was 142.9 million people, with a population of the Crimean peninsula of 2.3 million people, continuing in future, although with fluctuations in individual years, to generally show slight growth.

Population size and dynamics, 2002–2017

Federal District (within the borders of 2017) Population, million people Population growth rate,% Share of population from the total of the Russian Federation,%
20021 20101 2017 2002− 2010 2010− 2017 2002− 2017 2002 2010 2017
Russian Federation as a whole 147.6 145.2 146.8 98.4 101.1 99.5 100.0 100.0 100.0
Central Federal District 38.0 38.4 39.2 101.1 102.0 103.2 25.8 26.5 26.7
including Moscow and Moscow oblast 17.0 18.6 19.8 109.4 106.5 116.5 11.5 12.8 13.5
Northwestern Federal District 13.9 13.6 13.9 97.9 102.1 99.9 9.4 9.4 9.5
including Saint Petersburg and Leningrad region 6.8 6.9 7.4 102.2 106.0 108.4 4.6 4.8 5.0
Southern Federal District 16.4 16.2 16.4 98.9 101.5 100.4 11.1 11.1 11.2
North Caucasian Federal District 8.9 9.4 9.8 105.5 103.7 109.4 6.1 6.5 6.7
Volga Federal District 31.2 29.9 29.6 96.0 99.1 95.1 21.1 20.6 20.2
Ural Federal District 12.4 12.1 12.3 97.6 102.2 99.8 8.4 8.3 8.4
including the Tyumen oblast with the Khanty-Mansi autonomous okrug and Yamalo-Nenets autonomous okrug 3.3 3.4 3.7 104.0 107.8 112.1 2.2 2.3 2.5
Siberian Federal District 20.1 19.3 19.3 96.0 100.4 96.3 13.6 13.3 13.2
Far Eastern Federal District 6.7 6.3 6.2 94.0 98.2 92.4 4.5 4.3 4.2

Population changes were heterogeneous across the country and revealed significant variations in trends between regions and federal districts, which, as a consequence, affected the redistribution of the population among them. Overall, only three districts (the Central, South, and North Caucasus) showed positive trends during the period under review, and since 2011 almost all federal districts demonstrated population growth, with the exception of the Volga and the Far East Federal Districts.

The highest population growth rate was in the North Caucasus (9.4 per cent), which is characterized by the highest natural population growth rate. A high growth rate was in the Central and Northwestern Federal Districts, where the majority of growth was provided by both capital cities and “metropolitan” regions, as well as in the urbanized Urals (growth over the account of the Tyumen oblast and its autonomous okrugs) (see Table 1). This trend resulted in continuing population growth within the main settlement belt and a general shift in the “center of gravity” of the national settlement pattern to the south-west.

Among the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, the highest population growth rates were in the North Caucasus republics - Chechnya (28.2%) and Dagestan (19.9%). They are comparable only to the dynamics of population of the capital region (in Moscow and Moscow oblast as a whole the population increased by 16.5% during this period) and regions of Western Siberia, which are part of the Ural Federal District (14.8% in Khanty-Mansi autonomous okrug – Yugra and 10.6% cent in the south of the Tyumen oblast). The increase in the population of St. Petersburg was noticeable (13.3% against 7.3% in the Leningrad oblast). At the same time, the largest decline in population was observed in the regions of the Far East: the Magadan oblast has lost 20.3% of its population over the past 15 years, the Jewish autonomous oblast — 14.4%, the Kamchatsky krai — 12.3%. In the North of the European part of the country the population of the Republic of Komi and Murmansk oblast decreased by more than 15%. In most subjects of Central Russia, the level of population decline for 15 years also exceeded 10% (in the Oryol oblast, even 16%). There were significant population losses in the Kurgan (17.1%) and Kirov oblast (14.3%).

Components of population dynamics. The main factors of population dynamics in different proportions were natural (mainly due to uneven fertility dynamics) and migratory movements of the population. In Russia in general, due to natural population decline, losses over a 15-year period amounted to over 5.5 million people, but were compensated by positive migration balance, which exceeded 6.6 million people. However, during the period of 2000—2010, the demographic and migration situation in Russia has been changing significantly.

Natural movement. Since 2000, favourable age structure of the population and demographic policy have contributed to increasing the birth rate and reducing the natural decline of the population, and in the period between 2013 and 2015 there was even slight natural growth. However, since 2016, with the onset of a new cycle of decline in the birth rate, despite the continuing increase in life expectancy, the trend of natural decline in the population of Russia has recovered, as confirmed by data for 2017.

The 2010 population census conventionally separated the period of the post-Soviet population size decline due to natural decrease from the period of its overall growth within 6 years. It should be noted that, in addition to changing population trends due to natural population movements, there has been a change in the way migratory movements are taken into account at the same time, which allowed for more accurate assessments of these processes. It is worth noting that the positive demographic trends were formed mainly at the expense of urban population, while in rural areas “zero” natural growth was recorded only in 2013, after which the natural decline of the population recovered (Fig. 2).

Figure 2.

Natural movement of the population of Russia, 2002–2016. Source: compiled according to Rosstat data.

Population growth trends were similar in almost all parts of the country over the past 15 years (Fig. 3). The only region in which steady positive natural growth has been observed since 2002 is the North Caucasus. Other districts differ only in the time of transition from natural loss of the population to its growth (slightly earlier in the regions with relatively young age structure of the population — in the Urals, in Siberia, in the Far East — in 2008 and 2010−2011 respectively) or continuing natural decline of the population (most noticeable in the Volga region). There has been a decrease in growth in all districts since 2016 (or an increase in population decline). The only exception is the Northwestern Federal District, where such negative change in trends is constrained by a significant contribution to the overall dynamics of a more demographically stable St. Petersburg.

Figure 3.

Natural population growth by federal district, 2002–2016. Note: data on the Crimean peninsula are presented in the Crimean Federal District. Source: compiled according to Rosstat data.

Migration movement. During the period under review, the level of migration growth of the population (Fig. 4) did not remain constant, although the change in the methodology for recording migrants since 2011 does not allow for continuous analysis of the dynamics of migration processes.

Figure 4.

Migratory movement of the population of Russia, 2002–2016. Source: compiled according to Rosstat data.

By 2002, the migration situation in the country was characterized by the completion of the main trends of the 1990s and elimination of migration inflow of refugees and internally displaced persons, a significant decrease in migration of compatriots (mainly from Central Asia). The main factor of migration in these conditions is economic causes of various types (primarily labour). In internal migration, there has been a steady trend in the resettlement of the population from the north and east to the center and south of the country.

Between 2002 and 2010, the volume of internal migration remained relatively stable (at the level of 1.7 to 2 million people per year), with an understandable decline due to the 2008–2009 economic crisis. International migration, mainly determined by the level of migration exchange with CIS countries (including the Central Asian republics), on the contrary, was constantly intensifying until the recession of 2010. The maximum surplus of migration was recorded in 2007–2009, naturally reflecting the period of the maximum economic gradient in the income of the population between Russia and other CIS member states.

During the post-census period, there was an intensive increase in internal migration up to 4 million people per year and even higher, but experts explain it mainly by delays in the registration of migratory movements of populations following the introduction of a new methodology for migration recording. At the same time, since 2013 there has been a further increase in migration mobility of the population of the country.

In exchange with other countries, the dynamics of migration balance of recent years, as before, are mainly due to the variability of attractiveness of the Russia’s labour market. At the same time, the bulk of migration (80-90% of the total migration flow) is confined within the CIS region. Increase in the number of arrivals in 2013–2015 (abrupt growth of more than 100 thousand people - up to 536 thousand in 2015) in 2014 was resulting from the growing number of labour force from Uzbekistan, but the main contribution to the increase in the number of arrivals was due to events in the Ukraine. Additional inflow of migrants (relative to the level of 2013) for three years amounted to more than 250 thousand people, but, since 2016, the increase in the number of arrivals from the Ukraine began to decrease. In migration exchanges with other CIS countries, the number of arrivals stabilized and is now characterized by a moderate increase of a few percent per year or even a decline (Fig. 5).

Figure 5.

Number of arrivals from CIS countries, 2002–2016. Source: compiled according to Rosstat data.

After intensive growth in the number of people leaving Russia in 2011–2015 (here also up to 80% of migration exchange is localized within the CIS area) as a result of levelling economic conditions and rotation of a significant number of migrant workers, there has been a decline in the intensity of migration. Stable growth in the number of departures is recorded only in departures to the Ukraine (mainly return migration due to the stabilization of the situation in the country), as well as to Armenia (Fig. 6).

Figure 6.

Number of departures to CIS countries, 2002–2016. Source: compiled according to Rosstat data.

As to the countries outside the CIS area, there has been a significant increase in the outflow of population to China, North Korea, Vietnam and India since 2013. A slight increase was observed in the traditional destinations — Germany and Israel.

The distribution of migration inflow by federal districts is quite stable (Fig. 7), among which the Central Federal District, Northwestern Federal District, Ural and Siberian districts are steady leaders in the level of migration growth. They combine overall migration growth with large-scale internal migration directed to major cities. At the same time, the main (and sustainable) migration donors (in the migration exchange between federal districts) are still North Caucasus and the Far East.

Figure 7.

Migration balance by federal districts, 2002–2016, per 1000 inhabitants. Note: data on the Crimean peninsula are presented in the Crimean Federal District. Source: compiled according to Rosstat data.

Interregional differences and spatial trends in the dynamics of the settlement pattern

In most regions of Russia during 2002–2016, there was a multidirectional effect of the components of population dynamics. Only in five of the 85 constituent entities of the Russian Federation (Nenets autonomous okrug, Dagestan, Karachay-Cherkessia, the southern part of the Tyumen oblast and the Khanty-Mansi autonomous okrug) the population grew as a result of natural growth and migration surpluses. In 39 regions, the population decline was due to both migratory and natural decline. In 29 regions natural decline was fully or partially compensated by migration inflow, and in 12 regions (republics of the North Caucasus and some Siberian federal subjects) natural growth was combined with negative migration balance.

In general, during the period under review the average annual decline of the population was 0.5 persons per 1,000 inhabitants, which was the result of both natural and migration trends. Only in three federal districts (Central, Southern and North Caucasus) the population size increased by the end of the period (Table 2). In the remaining districts, the population size declined due to both components of population dynamics, except for the Northwestern District, where population size declined despite migration inflow. The diversity of natural and migratory contributions to the overall dynamics of the population, as well as the internal contrasts of population reproduction trends, is observed in all federal districts without exception, and the configuration of these differences vary significantly.

Average annual population growth, 2002–2016

Districts Average annual natural growth per 1,000 inhabitants, 2002–2016 Average annual migration growth per 1,000 inhabitants, 2002–2016 Average annual total increase per 1,000 inhabitants, 2002–2016
Russian Federation −2,6 2.0 −0,5
Central Federal District −5,2 7.2 2.0
Northwestern Federal District −4,5 3.6 −0,8
Southern Federal District (excluding Crimea) −2,9 3.3 0.4
North Caucasian Federal District 7.0 −0,3 6.7
Volga Federal District −3,3 −0,4 −3,7
Ural Federal District −0,2 −0,1 −0,4
Siberian Federal District −1,2 −1,6 −2,9
Far Eastern Federal District −0,9 −4,9 −5,8
Crimean Peninsula −3,8 1.9 −1,9

Thus, for example, within Central Russia in 2002–2016, population growth was in fact achieved only by means of three regions with maximum migration attractiveness - Moscow and Moscow oblast, which form the capital region, as well as the relatively prosperous Belgorod oblast (Fig. 8, Fig. 9). In the capital region, the average migration growth rate was more than 10 per 1000 inhabitants per year against the natural decline rate in Moscow within 1 ‰, in the Moscow region — 5 ‰, in the Belgorod region — 6 ‰ against natural decline rate of 4 ‰. The absolute inflow of migrants to these regions made it possible to compensate for not only the natural decline but also the migration outflow in these regions and in a number of other regions.

Figure 8.

Population increase/decline, 2002–2016. Source: compiled according to Rosstat data.

Figure 9.

Components of population dynamics, 2002–2016. Note: the territory of the Crimean peninsula is represented separately as part of the Crimean Federal District. Source: compiled according to Rosstat data.

Migration outflow of the population at the end of the period was noted in the Tver, Tambov, Kostroma and Oryol oblasts. In most non-Chernozem regions of the Central Federal District, as well as in the Oryol oblast and even the Chernozem Tambov oblast high and steady natural decline of the population (above 5 ‰ on average for the period) determined population dynamics in the context of small, zero or even negative migration balance.

In other parts of the country, we also watch trends of the polarization of settlement due to the multidirectional population dynamics and variety of its structural components. For example, in the Northwestern Federal District, where there is a maximum level of interregional variety on population dynamics, in addition to the St. Petersburg and Leningrad oblast, significant in relative terms but insignificant in absolute values growth was provided by the Nenets autonomous okrug, in which migration attractiveness is combined with positive natural growth. The middle position is occupied by the Kaliningrad oblast with a minor level of both natural and migratory loss of the population.

Regions of the Southern Federal District are clearly divided into two groups. Positive dynamics was observed only in the Krasnodar krai, Republic of Adygea (due to migration growth) and Astrakhan oblast (due to insignificant positive values of both components); in other subjects of the district, there was a decline in the population.

High natural growth of the population is a distinctive feature of the North Caucasus, which demonstrates the highest natural growth rates in the country (Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan) and despite the negative migration balance, noticeably stands out against other parts of Russia. Within the district, polarization is ensured mainly by uneven migration movement of the population, which determines the negative dynamics of the population in North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria. An intermediate position in the rating of dynamics is held by the Stavropol krai, in which there is an atypical (“mirror-like”) for this region combination of natural decline and migration growth.

In the Volga region, on the contrary, the results of the recent 1.5 decades are: the natural decline of the population almost everywhere, and only in Tatarstan it is exceeded by positive migration balance. The Tyumen oblast and its autonomous okrugs are an area of stable population growth in the Ural Federal District. The Altai, Tyva, Novosibirsk and Tomsk oblasts have similar positive dynamics in the Siberian Federal District. In the Far East the only area of sustainable population growth was Yakutia, while among other demographically disadvantaged territories within the Far East region, the Magadan oblast with its annual average loss of 17 people per 1000 inhabitants, or 1.7%, looks most dramatic.

In general, three main types of population growth poles can be identified for the country in the medium-term retrospective:

  1. central migration-attractive regions where population growth is mainly due to migration inflow (Moscow and St. Petersburg regions);
  2. regions and zones with a combination of factors of migration attractiveness and a relatively favourable demographic situation (little or close to zero natural growth or small natural decline of the population) — the Tyumen oblast, Khanty-Mansi and Yamal-Nenets autonomous okrugs, Belgorod oblast, Krasnodar and Stavropol krais, Tatarstan, Novosibirsk and Tomsk oblasts;;
  3. regions with natural population growth (mainly due to the ethnic factor), including the republics of the North Caucasus (excluding North Ossetia-Alania and Kabardino-Balkaria), Southern Siberia (Altai, Tyva), as well as the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in the Far East and the Nenets autonomous okrug in the Northwestern District.

Therefore, the period between 2002 and 2016 demonstrates variability of population dynamics and shows levelled trends of the demographic and migration situation over the period.

Between 2014 and 2016 relatively positive changes in population and settlement dynamics were observed: these were the years of the growth of the population due to a combination of migration inflow and minor natural population growth in the country as a whole. At the level of federal districts, the population growth was observed everywhere, except for the Far East and Volga districts (Table 3).

Average annual population growth, 2014–2016

Population at the beginning of the year Average annual natural growth per 1000 inhabitants, 2014–2016 Average annual migration growth per 1,000 inhabitants, 2014–2016 Average annual total increase per 1,000 inhabitants, 2014–2016
Russian Federation 0.2 1.8 1.9
Central Federal District −1,9 5.3 3.3
Northwestern Federal District −0,9 3.2 2.4
Southern Federal District (excluding Crimea) −0,6 3.6 2.9
North Caucasian Federal District 8.7 −2,3 6.4
Volga Federal District −0,6 −0,5 −1,1
Ural Federal District 2.3 0.7 3.0
Siberian Federal District 1.1 −0,6 0.6
Far Eastern Federal District 1.2 −3,6 −2,4
Crimean Peninsula −2,5 10.5 8.0

The Centre has a clear differentiation of three groups of regions. Firstly, it is the capital region. Secondly, it is economically prosperous areas with a balance of natural and migratory growth with small positive or negative deviations (Belgorod, Kaluga, Yaroslavl, Lipetsk), as well as the Voronezh and Kursk oblasts, which are at risk, as there was a great contribution of emergency migration from the Ukraine to the population dynamics. The third group, which includes all other regions, shows the persistence of negative population dynamics. Extremely negative dynamics characterized the Tambov oblast (the average annual decline of the population in the last three years was 9 ‰) (Fig. 10).

Figure 10.

Population increase/decline, 2014–2016. Source: compiled according to Rosstat data.

In the North-West, the division into two groups remains. The first is the growing St. Petersburg region and Kaliningrad oblast (due to migration) and the Nenets autonomous okrug (due to natural growth). The second group (other regions, including the Vologda region) shows a negative trend as a result of combination of migration outflow and natural decline.

In In the Southern Federal District in the period between 2010 and 2016 there is a trend of increasing natural growth and decreasing migration balance. At the same time, interregional differentiation is decreasing, but slightly (Krasnodar krai, Adygea and Astrakhan oblast are growing, others are decreasing) (Fig. 11).

Figure 11.

Components of population dynamics, 2014–2016. Note: the territory of the Crimean peninsula is represented separately as part of the Crimean Federal District. Source: compiled according to Rosstat data.

In the North Caucasian Federal District, the situation is without fundamental changes.

In the Volga Federal District, where Tatarstan is still the only region with a growing population, there has been a decrease in interregional differentiation due to the distribution of negative dynamics, and Udmurtia managed to reach zero growth.

In the Ural Federal District distribution of the regions as a whole is stable, however, the Yamalo-Nenets autonomous okrug due to increasing migration outflow (the highest in Russia), becomes a decreasing region (the average annual total decline is 2,2 ‰). In the Khanty-Mansi autonomous okrug negative migration balance is also recorded, and in the Kurgan oblast both natural and migration growths decline.

In the Siberian Federal District, Buryatia catches up with the group of growing regions by increasing natural growth and reducing migration outflow. Differentiation persists in the Far Eastern District, and the Magadan oblast and the Jewish autonomous oblast are experiencing the strongest decline


The following main trends in the development of the population settlement pattern in Russia can be identified as conclusions from the above analysis of its main parameters and characteristics.

The total vector of the resettlement is directed to the southwest. Under the influence of the main vector of internal migrations and the existing differentiation of natural growth of the population (primarily birth rate) there is a gradual shift of concentration of settlement towards the south and the center of the European part of the country.

Positive dynamics of the population is typical for the regions of the North Caucasus (Krasnodar krai — due to migration attractiveness, the Republic of the North Caucasus — as a result of maximum birth rate). In the eastern part of the country, growing or stable population size is observed only in some regions (the oil and gas producing regions of Western Siberia — both due to migration growth and increased birth rate as a result of the population structure “artificially” rejuvenated by outflow of pensioners; and certain ethnic republics — Sakha (Yakutia), republics of southern Siberia — due to traditionalist reproductive patterns of the population). Such processes can be seen most clearly in the allocation of the main (major) settlement belt or in the comparison of population dynamics in the Far North with all-Russian indicators.

An analysis of population dynamics over the past four years shows that the overall positive trend of drawing more territories into the “growth zone” has been reversed. Moreover, the analysis of data for 2017 showed that it is a turning point for all-Russian trends of demographic development. Already during 2017 it became clear that the period of natural growth (in the country as a whole) is over and the number of regions with natural decline of the population increased. These changes became even more obvious in 2018. At the same time, internal migration activity of the population decreased.

Analysis of demographic (reproductive) and migration contributions to changes in macro-proportions of resettlement clearly showed the main vector of interregional differentiation of these processes. Thus, a group of growing (or sustainably stable) regions includes the capital-cities and large-city territories with their level of post-industrial development, expresses in the attractiveness of labour markets and improved quality of life (improvement of settlements, quality of transport, communication, infrastructure, housing environment). Besides Moscow and St. Petersburg, this group includes Krasnodar krai, Republic of Tatarstan, Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg oblasts etc. In addition to the factor of migration attractiveness, the factor of higher standard of life caused the natural population growth with lowered mortality and higher fertility.

The factor of living standards of the population for a long time remained relevant in oil and gas producing and exporting regions of Western Siberia (as part of the Ural Federal District). In them, the industrial potential due to the specifics of the status of oil and gas production in the economy of the country also enabled concentrating the main attributes of population growth — attractiveness of the labour market and the quality of human settlements.

The intra-Russian spatial gap in the stages of demographic development enabled the republics of the North Caucasus and southern Siberia, and Yakutia, in which the agrarian-industrial structure of the economy remains and the reproductive behaviour of the population is still oriented on high fertility, to move forward into the number of leaders.

On the contrary, in the “depopulation zone” includes the economically depressed regions with inherited and difficult to modernize industrial burden. The regions of Central Russia, the Volga and the Northwestern Federal District, partly Siberia and the Far East form this largest, in terms of territorial coverage, area.

Due to the inertia of trends in population development, it is possible to predict a shift in the vector of general population dynamics in most regions in the coming years. According to demographic statistics for 2018, the negative reversal of natural and migration trends in most Russian regions. In general, the trends of interregional polarization of settlement pattern are expected to intensify, while unlike the period of 2002–2017, it will not be contributed mainly by growth of certain territories, but instead, by the negative dynamics of the majority of other regions.

Despite the diversity of population dynamics in the regions, it is generally expected that, despite the negative dynamics of the population as a whole, the scale of potential disintegration threat for the national settlement pattern will be relatively low in the coming decades. At the same time, attention should be paid to the potential problems of unity of the settlement pattern. Overconcentration of the settlement potential in the main and interregional settlement centres remains a major threat to the national settlement pattern. In most regions, similar trends are observed at the intraregional level.

In parallel with this, there are (previously not so clearly noticeable) trends of local “failures”, the largest of which should be the Volga region (with the exception of the Republic of Tatarstan) — with the continuing population decline, this macroregion can become an new settlement fault in the long run.

In general, the picture of the latest settlement dynamics is determined by the main factor — the quality (together with availability and approachability) of labour markets. Inertia of external factors of socio-economic development of the country, lack of a pace of modernization of the economy of regions, compatible with the needs of the labour market and requirements to the quality of life of the population, will only strengthen the internal polarization of the country’s territory and its settlement pattern. The only way to withstand potential disintegration of the settlement pattern is to develop regional and interregional infrastructure and environment.

Even in the conditions of inevitability of negative demographic and migration trends, it is possible to increase the connectivity of the territory of the country by means of construction of new high-speed roads and improvement of the quality of the environment of settlements (stimulation of decentralization of the labour market, housing and improvement projects, etc.). As shown by the dynamics of development of the main settlement centers and the adjacent agglomeration areas, these measures can significantly improve the sustainability of local settlement patterns and maintain the integration of the country’s common settlement system. Unfortunately, given the poor regional economic policy and the hypertrophic role of the state (public) sector in financing spatial development projects the prospects for meeting these obvious needs have so far been a distant prospect.


The section “Interregional differences and spatial trends in the dynamics of the settlement pattern” is written by A.G.Makhrova within the frames of the RFFR project № 17-06-00396 on “Social and natural ecological factors of urbanization / de-urbanization processes in contemporary Russia (interdisciplinary macro- and micro-analysis)”

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