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Far Eastern population moving to Russia’s western regions

July 11, 2013, 11:18 UTC+3

Most common reasons are low wages, high prices, bad roads and no career advancement prospects

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Novye Izvestiya published an article focusing on a rapid outflow of population from Russia’s Far Eastern regions. In 2012 alone 19,000 people left the Far Eastern Federal District, although it is inhabited by a mere 4 percent of the Russian population. According to public opinions polls, around 50 percent of the Far Eastern residents want to leave regions they live in. Most common reasons are low wages, high prices, bad roads and no career advancement prospects.

Olga Makova left the village of Ust-Kamchatsk, Russia’s Kamchatka Territory, soon after school for St. Petersburg, where she lives and studies. Later her brother and parents also moved there. Olga said minuses of her life on Kamchatka were bad infrastructure and high prices with low wages. Her mother was a schoolteacher in her village, where she earned 12,000 roubles (1 dollar is equal to approximately 33 roubles), while in St. Petersburg she managed to find a job at a private school earning 40,000 roubles. “Most of my classmates also left the region,” Olga told the daily.

According to a recent public opinion survey conducted by the Centre for Social Demography and Economic Sociology at the Institute for Socio-Political research under the Russian Academy of Sciences, 45 percent of polled residents of the Far East would like to move somewhere. Eighty-six percent of these respondents would like to move to Russia’s other region, while another 10 percent consider an opportunity to go abroad. Ninety-eight percent of those wishing to leave name low wages and high prices as main reasons, 64 percent - lack of good roads and infrastructure, 23 percent - bad climate and 5 percent - lack of career advancement prospects.

The head of the Centre for Social Demography and Economic Sociology, Sergei Ryazantsev, told the daily that over the past year the Far East’s population reduced by 19,000 to 6.4 million or by a bit more than 4 percent of the Russian population. At the same time the Far Eastern Federal District is Russia’s largest region occupying more than one third (34.6 percent) of its territory. Since 1990 the population of Russia’s Far East shrank by 1.8 million or by 22 percent.

If migration flows remain unchanged, by 2030 the Far East’s population may reach 5.9 million (the level of 1970) and by 2050 - 5.2-5.4 million (the level of 1959), said D. Sc. Yekaterina Motrich, head of the social development department of the Economic Research Institute under the Far Eastern branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Mainly young people leave the Far East. “Migration activity is practically not characteristic of respondents over 45 years of age,” Sergei Ryazantsev said. “The backbone of exodus is people aged between 25 to 35 years, many leave the region as soon as they graduate from school.”

The expert believes that it is necessary to introduce housing subsidies or provide readymade housing with further registration of property rights upon the expiration of 10 years to encourage people to stay in the Far East. Ryazantsev also proposed to develop business immigration programmes to attract investors, including those from neighboring countries.

The Russian presidential envoy in the Far Eastern Federal District, Viktor Ishayev, believes that first of all it is necessary to develop large-scale infrastructure projects in the Far East. “At the same time it is necessary to realize that these projects will pay back in many years, sometimes in several decades. Investors should see long-term prospects,” he said.

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