The Changing Spatial Distribution of the Population of the Former Soviet Union
Heleniak, Timothy Edmund
Geores, Martha E
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When it existed, the Soviet Union was a closed economic and migration space with tightly-controlled movement of goods, people, and ideas across its borders. It was also an ethnically complex region with 130 different nationalities, fifty-three with territorially-based ethnic homelands, of which fifteen became the successor states to the Soviet Union. The breakup of the Soviet Union, the transition towards market economies, and the liberalization of the societies have together greatly impacted the lives of people in the region. Many found themselves in countries or regions with dramatically shrunken economies or as ethnic minorities in newly independent states and many have chosen migration as a strategy of adaptation to the new circumstances in which they found themselves. Using established migration theory, this dissertation examines the causes of migration among the fifteen successor states since 1991. The main test was to compare the relative impact of economic factors versus ethnic factors driving migration movements in the post-Soviet space. The results showed that while some of the movements could be classified as people migrating to their ethnic homelands, a majority could be explained by neoclassical economic theories of migration and the large income differentials that have resulted from the economic transition. Other theories that have been found to explain migration in other world migration systems were found to also be applicable in the former Soviet Union.