Central and frontier regions: quality of life and social well-being
A report by Vladimir Koslov at the regular LCSR seminar
On January, 30, 2014 Vladimir Kozlov (associate researcher at LCSR; associate professor at the department of demographics, HSE) delivered a report on “Central and frontier regions: quality of life and social well-being” at the regular LCSR seminar. Tatiana Karabchuk (LCSR, Deputy Director) was a discussant at the seminar.
Russian frontier regions play a strategically important role in economic development, social and geographic integrity and political stability of the whole country. Vladimir argues that these territories shaped populations that are open to change, active, initiative, independent and tolerant. This research considers Eastern Siberia, Far East and Arctic regions of the Russian North as frontier regions. Large-scale colonization of these parts of the country dates back to the early 20th century only; during the times of the Russian Empire those areas were occupied by small, dispersed subpopulations.
Previous works of the research team (Vladimir investigates this topic together with Anna Nemirovskaya, LCSR senior research fellow) confirmed F.Turner's "frontier thesis" and showed that a range of socio-cultural characteristics distinguish frontier regions from the core regions of Russia. Besides, as a rule, frontier areas are also often characterized by quite harsh climatic, economic and labor conditions, lower social and physical protection. It becomes evident in higher criminal rate, slower housing construction, etc. These conditions became a reason for constant immigration from the frontier regions.
On the new stage of the research the scholars attempted to verify a hypothesis that Russian frontier and core areas differ in quality of life and social well-being. The core part of the report was devoted to the factors that determine subjective social well-being of the population. The literature review brought scholars to the assumptions that the following regional factors can influence on the subjective well-being: material conditions, health status, unemployment rate, environmental quality and crime rate.
The research is based on empirical data that was gathered within the project “Social structure and social institutions of the central and frontier zones of the Russian Federation: quality of life and potential for modernization”, supported by the grant of Russian Humanities Research Foundation in 2013 - 2014, # 13-33-01319. The data are presented by official oblast’-level statistics and population surveys.
Scholars demonstrated several regression models that explain subjective well-being of the population. Some results occurred to be counter-intuitive, but authors provided logical explanations. Thus, what is mostly interesting, there is negative correlation between well-being and life expectancy in the frontier regions, while generally in Russia we can observe positive (yet insignificant) correlation. Scholars explained this paradox with an indirect influence of urbanization and industrialization. Normal socio-economic conditions in the frontier regions are observed in the industrial centers with a harsh climate and unhealthy, even dangerous labor conditions. So, people in these regions have to pay for better life by their health.
by Anastasia Dubova