Age-specific Migration in Regional Centres and Peripheral Areas of Russia


  • Liliya Karachurina National Research University Higher School of Economics, Department of Demography
  • Nikita Mkrtchyan National Research University Higher School of Economics, Department of Demography



Internal migration, Russia, Net migration, Regional centres and periphery, Age


Ravenstein, writing in 19th century papers, observed that migration varied with the life course. However, he did not investigate this variation in detail, as the necessary data were not then available. Age-specific migration has been a focus for researchers of migration in the 20th and 21st centuries. Building on this research, the current paper explores age-specific migration in Russia focussing on its spatial diversity. We compare age-specific migration patterns found in Russia and those observed in other developed countries. For this investigation, we mainly use Russian administrative data on residence registration for 2012-2016, together with information on populations by age in the latest census in 2010. The data are analysed using a classification of local administrative units classified by degree of remoteness from Russia’s principal cities (regional centres).

The main results are as follows: In Russia, young people participate strongly in migration flows between peripheral territories and regional centres. The net migration surplus in regional centres is mostly produced by the migration of 15-19 year-olds starting further and higher education courses. Peak migration occurs in this age group. This type of migration represents upward mobility in the spatial hierarchy because institutions of higher education are located in the large cities. People aged 20-29 and 30-39 migrate in much smaller numbers, but they also replenish the population of regional centres. The inflow of middle-aged migrants and families with children was directed to the areas located closest to the regional centres, the suburbs. This type of migration is observed in regions with a well-developed middle class with high purchasing power, for example, in the city of Moscow and in the Moscow Region.

Peripheral territories have similar profiles of age-specific migration, but of loss rather than gain. The farther they are from regional centres, the more significant the outflow of young people and the stronger the impact of migration on population ageing. The rural periphery and small cities attract only elderly migrants, but this inflow is far smaller than the outflow of young people. The directions and age selectivity of migration observed in other countries are thus also found in Russia, although there are important differences associated with the nature of housing in Russian cities and regions.

* This article belongs to a special issue on “Internal Migration as a Driver of Regional Population Change in Europe: Updating Ravenstein”.




How to Cite

Karachurina, L. and Mkrtchyan, N. 2020. Age-specific Migration in Regional Centres and Peripheral Areas of Russia. Comparative Population Studies. 44, (May 2020). DOI:



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