During the past 15–20 years, the number of the rural population has been constantly decreasing, both due to the natural population decline (mortality exceeds the birth rate), and due to migration outflow. The depopulation of rural areas is so active that the number of abandoned villages is constantly increasing, as well as the number of rural townships with a small number of inhabitants. In some regions of the Russian Federation, the proportion of depopulated villages exceeded 20 %, mainly in the regions of Central Russia and the North. Between 2002 and 2010 alone the number of depopulated villages increased by more than 6 thousand. More than half of all rural settlements are hardly populated (from 1 to 100 people).
The main reasons for the decline in the number of the rural population relate to the socio-economic plane. Life in rural areas is characterized by a lower standard of living and a relatively high level of unemployment, even to the point of stagnation. Another problem is the lower quality of life of the rural population due to hardly available social infrastructure (education, medicine, leisure, transport) and basic services, as well as housing conditions. Over the past 20 years, rural settlements have mostly lost social infrastructure, rather than increased it: the number of rural schools has decreased by about 1.7 times, hospitals – 4 times, outpatient clinics – 2.7 times.
The depopulation of rural areas is not a uniquely Russian phenomenon, but in Russia it follows the negative scenario caused by the hyper-concentration of the population in the capital and large cities just like in the countries of Asia and Latin America. The general direction of the national policy leads to the concentration of finances, jobs and, as a consequence, population in the capital and other major cities.
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