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Youth migration in Regions of the Russian Arctic Zone

Student: Marina Chushkina

Supervisor: Mikhail B. Denisenko

Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences

Educational Programme: Population and Development (Master)

Year of Graduation: 2021

The issue of the Russian Arctic zone development has been receiving much consideration as the government is seeking ways to reverse negative effects of the out-migration, natural population decrease and population ageing, that have been prevailing since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Moreover, the latest strategy for Arctic development approved in 2020 has reiterated a path towards attracting investments and qualified labour back to the Arctic regions. However, not only the feasibility of this direction is debated among the scientists, its necessity is an equally controversial subject. At the same time, although young specialists are believed to be of most importance due to the harsh Arctic working conditions, characteristics of youth migration, push and pull factors behind it and possible support measures to assure young human capital attraction and its retainment are often-overlooked topics in the body of research. The aim of this study is to explore youth migration processes in the Russian Arctic zone alongside with the demographic situation and labour market conditions in the Arctic regions and main drivers for the migration of the young human resources. This paper attempts to address the question, whether the government should strive to reinforce qualified youth migration to the Arctic for the long-term residence and if so, what could be done to achieve it. Russian government’s position on skilled labour force migration and youth migration in the Arctic regions as well as international experience of Canada, Sweden and Denmark on managing migration processes and Arctic development were investigated using desktop study method. A descriptive analysis and demographic supply projection were performed based on the data on demographics of the Arctic regions, supply and demand of the qualified human capital, gathered from the Federal State Statistics Service, HeadHunter and Rostrud bases. Additionally, a thematic analysis of interviews with the public officials from the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East and Arctic, civil servants from the regional executive authorities, members of the youth chambers (parliaments) and researchers, whose work focuses on Arctic development and human capital questions, was conducted in order to examine push and pull factors, influencing qualified youth migration, and subjective effectiveness of the existing policies on Arctic youth and potential migrants. The results indicate that though the overall demographic situation in the Arctic zone does not differ drastically from the trends general for the whole Russia, targeted attraction of the qualified youth to specific Arctic regions might be needed, judging by the projected number of economically active population, current discrepancies at the labour market and information, received from the experts. Furthermore, the government should clarify its approach on the Arctic development in the normative legal documents, focus on the territories’ branding and information provision on the Arctic zone, its labour market and career advancement opportunities, and foster inter-regional cooperation of the Arctic authorities and universities. Additionally, youth parliaments (chambers) have potential to not only provide self-realization for the Arctic youth, but also motivate them to stay in the region of residence, if some adjustments would be made to organization of their activities.

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