Sunday, July 22, 2018

Russia’s Dying Company Towns Don’t Fit the Standard Image, New Book Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 22 – The single company towns – in Russian, monogorody – generally are portrayed and thought of as having a major heavy industry employer, but in fact, according to V.Ya Lyubovny, the author of a new book about them, they are extremely diverse, with other kinds of employers being the center of most of them.

            Lyubovny’s book, Single Profile Cities of Russia: Origins, Evolution, and Regulation (in Russian, Moscow: Ekon-Inform, 2018; 445 pages) sheds light on this diversity and the difficulties Moscow faces in addressing it, especially since some kinds of company towns are more common in one region than in others (

                The largest share of the 907 company towns he surveys is accounted for not by traditional heavy industry but by forestry, paper and wood processing, three sectors which support more than a third of these locations. And he notes that the mix of such company towns varies widely from one federal district to another.

            A clear measure of what a drag these places are on the Russian economy is the following statistic: Although 15.8 million Russians live in these places, just over ten percent of the country’s population, only 1.36 million have jobs in the main firms in these locations, just 1.8 percent of the country’s workforce.

            These 907 cities and towns, Lyubovny says, “form “almost half of all cities” in the Russian Federation and about the same fraction of “settlements of an urban type.  They are the least stable places in the country even when the economy is doing well, and they are the first to lose “’balance’ in crisis situations.

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