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Otkhodnichestvo?s impact on small towns in Russia

Yana Zausaeva ()

ERSA conference papers from European Regional Science Association

Abstract: Historically otkhodnichestvo in Russia was designed as the temporary departure of peasants from their permanent residences in villages to earn money in regions where industry and agriculture were well developed. Preconditions for the development of this phenomenon included rural overpopulation and inability to provide sustenance for peasants' households only through local agricultural activities and homecrafts. Nowadays otkhodnichestvo can be defined as employment outside home municipality, forced by the lack of jobs or by the low level of wages in places of otlhodniks' permanent residence, where they return on a regular periodic basis. Expert estimates of the number of otkhodniks in nowadays Russia vary from 3 million to 15 million households. Such a large-scale phenomenon as otkhodnichestvo (despite its "invisibility" to the state) causes a heavy impact on the quality characteristics of different levels of societies serving as objects of public administration and subjects of local government. But neither the federal level of power nor the regional one fully comprehend the significance of the phenomenon. Sometimes it goes the other way round for the local government, which is the closest one to people: municipalities could be divided into two groups of those who detect otkhodniks and those who don't. But even in those cases when local governments are able to notice otkhodniks it, in fact, cannot be said that otkhodniks are under permanent scrutiny of municipal administrations as they are still mainly on their own. Research into the present day interaction between otkhodnichestvo and viability of municipalities is far from being complete and exhaustive. This paper outlines the interconnection between contemporary otkhodnichestvo and some political, economic and socio-cultural processes at the local level. Influence of otkhodnichestvo on the political and economic life and socio-cultural processes at the local level is of ambivalent nature, which does not allow to unambiguously evaluate if the impact brought on by it is functional or dysfunctional for municipalities. Development of otkhodnichestvo is caused by complex socio-economic reasons and it entails complex implications for the municipalities, to which the phenomenon is immanent. This paper consists of 3 sections, which describe political, economical and socio-cultural relevance of otkhodnichestvo to small towns which are at some level exposed to the phenomenon. The paper draws on various examples of this incoherent impact on small towns, situated in the non-black earth zone regions, where otkhodnichestvo was historically developed.

Keywords: Demand and Supply of Labor; otkhodniks; local government; self-organization; active population; rental population; political participation; loss of taxes; labor substitution (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: J20 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014-11
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cis and nep-tra
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