International comparisons of population mobility in Russia

Timothy Heleniak, University of Maryland

The population of Russia is regarded as being quite immobile compared to other countries and the lack of mobility has been cited as a factor slowing long-term economic growth. There have been some recent methodological advances and the use of new datasets on internal migration which make cross-national comparisons, though these do not extend to Russia. This paper adds comparisons of levels of mobility in Russia with other countries. The study finds that the population of Russia is not significantly less mobile than other large countries and that part of the myth of immobility stems from a deterioration of the migration registration system in the post-Soviet period. There are inconsistencies between lifetime mobility derived from population censuses and annual mobility from a population register which originated during the central-planning period. Given changes in the economic structure at both national and regional levels during the period of economic transition, migration theory predicted significant migration movements, many of which were not captured by the statistical system.

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Presented in Session 55: Data issues of internal migration