The role of migration in the rural peripheralization in post-Soviet Latvia

Zaiga Krisjane, University of Latvia
Elina Apsite-Berina, University of Latvia
Ineta Grine, University of Latvia
Liga Feldmane, University of Latvia
Maris Berzins, University of Latvia

Over the past two decades many rural areas of Latvia have faced the problem of depopulation and decreasing employment opportunities. Moreover, remote and sparsely populated rural areas have been disadvantaged during the whole period of post-Soviet transformation. The collapse of communist economy and Soviet agro-industrial system resulted in extremely rapid employment decline and out-migration from rural areas. However, new processes have emerged in the 2000s – urban sprawl around cities characterized by in-migration of affluent households in the suburbs. Our research examines population changes, composition and migration behaviour of residents in remote rural countryside of Latvia. We use data from a 2013 survey among 469 randomly selected households in four small rural municipalities of the Vidzeme region. In migration studies, the focus has traditionally been on out-migration from the countryside and problems associated with loss of population. Nevertheless, our study also illustrates in-migration patterns in selected rural destinations. We show that personal characteristics (age, gender, marital status, employment status, education, rootedness and migration behaviour) and contextual factors (unemployment level and settlement type) are both important in shaping the composition of long-time residents and in-migrants. We found that migration selectivity is relatively stable in comparing with previous studies. Although the differences in migration behaviour by demographic characteristics are in line with universalistic explanations, the patterns are different for remote rural areas (farmsteads) and rural centres (villages). When the two types of countryside are compared to each other, the sparsely populated rural areas are less attractive than rural centres to those with higher incomes and high education. In addition, we found that the migration patterns had an aging effect on the rural population.

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Presented in Poster Session 2