The Baltic Region

2021 Vol. 13 №4

2021 Том 13 Выпуск 47

The Role of Cities in Modern Economy

National urban policy in Russia and the European experience

Abstract

This article analyses the features, shortcomings, prospects, and limitations of Russia’s national urban policy (NUP) and similar initiatives abroad to formulate proposals for further development of the Russian NUP. To this end, the study examines international (particularly German) documents and publications on NUP and the Russian regulatory framework. The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn attention to the resilience of cities to crises and the development of urban green spaces. Germany’s current NUP, adopted in 2007, stands out for its complexity and congruence with regional policy. The principal NUP document in Russia is the Spatial Development Strategy. However, it overlooks some issues essential for the development of the city system: the federal authorities support only selected types of towns, such as single-industry municipalities, and the NUP is not comprehensive as it pays little attention to the economic dimension. A feeble information framework and largely powerless municipal authorities impede further development of the NUP. A transition to a comprehensive and well-designed NUP in Russia is proposed, which includes counteracting the concentration of population and economic activity in Moscow and establishing Saint Petersburg as a centre of economic growth. There is also an urgent need to understand the economic development prospects of smaller towns.

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Spatial diffusion of Asian direct investments in the northern European EU countries

Abstract

The first publications on the spatial diffusion of foreign direct investment (FDI) appeared in the 1970s-1990s. Since then, many of their provisions have been repeatedly criticised as outdated and inconsistent with empirical evidence of the current stage of globalisation. Previously, only examples of ‘newcomers’ to internationalisation were used to illustrate distinct phases in the expansion of transnational companies and their effort to first establish themselves in major economic centres, as the factor of gradually growing awareness of potential investors began to play an important role. This article aims to show the persistent character of FDI spatial diffusion patterns and their correlation with the existing hierarchy of cities. In our research, we used the example of Asian companies working in the Baltic states, Finland, Sweden and Denmark, newcomers to internationalisation, not affected by the ‘neighbourhood effect’, and contrasted them with Western European investors. We confirmed the validity of the hierarchical wavelike model of the FDI spatial diffusion with the dominance of metropolitan urban agglomerations. It was also found that mergers and acquisitions are dominant forms of FDI in developed countries. Their ascendancy leads both to a distortion of the geographical pattern of subsidiaries networks of investor companies and to the intention of investors to sell their assets in provinces and move their head offices closer to capital cities. Consequently, there is a simplification of the structure of businesses, which is typical of the earlier stages of the FDI spatial diffusion.

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Coastal Studies

The coasts we live in: can there be a single definition for a coastal zone?

Abstract

Throughout the history of humankind, people have settled along seashores. The gradual accumulation of population and industrial activity in coastal areas has created preconditions for coastalisation — the movement of people and socio-economic activity to marine coasts. To date, coastal areas have a higher rate of economic development, fostering migration and an influx of capital across the globe. Scholars and policymakers voice concerns about the asymmetry of regional development and the increasing anthropogenic impact on the coastal ecosystem. It reinforces the importance of coastal zone management. In this study, we use an example of the Baltic region to identify the coastalisation patterns in the Baltic region and answer the question, whether there can be a single definition of the coastal zone of the Baltic region. According to a broad definition, the Baltic macro-region is nearly all coastal and, consequently, all settlements are influenced by the coastalisation effect. We have studied urban population dynamics in 128 cities of 45 coastal regions through the lens of various characteristics of a coastal city — the distance from the sea (10, 50, 100, and 150 km), location in a coastal region (NUTS 2), availability of a port and its primary maritime activity (tankers, cargo, fishing, passenger, recreational vessels and others). The research results suggest that despite the strong coherence of the Baltic region countries, there should not be a single delimitation approach to defining the coastal zone. Overall, the most active marine economic processes occur in the zone up to 10 km from the seacoast and 30 km from ports and port infrastructure. However, in the case of Sweden, Poland, and Latvia, the coastal zone can be extended to 50 km, and in Germany — up to 150 km inland.

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Migration attractiveness of the coastal zone of Russia’s North-West: local gradients

Abstract

A well-acknowledged driver of change, population movement intensifies the development of coastal territories. The Russian North-West holds a vast coastal zone. Granting access to the Baltic, the White, and the Barents Seas, it is an area of geostrategic importance where much of the country’s coastal economy — one of the national priorities — is located. Push and pull factors are enormously diverse in the area, as are migration flows forming attraction poles for migrants. There is little research on the issue despite its social and practical significance. Thus, research is required to examine how the coastal factor can benefit the migration attractiveness and human resources of Russian coastal territories of geostrategic importance. This study aims to delineate coastal territories and investigate local migration flows compared to those recorded in inland regions. The research draws on the concept of coastalisation, employing universal, geographical, and statistical research methods. It uses documentary sources and official 2011—2020 statistics. The findings show that the coastal position and maritime economic activity are relevant factors for migration attractiveness. Saint Petersburg and the coastal municipalities of the Leningrad and Kaliningrad regions are more attractive to migrants than more northerly territories. However, there are attraction poles farther north too, and the coastal zone of the Arkhangelsk region attracts more migrants than its inland part. The study demonstrates the growing polarisation of migration space in the coastal areas and especially agglomerations. Changes in the age structure of immigration flows have caused social factors in attractiveness to migrants to replace employment-related factors.

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Migration Studies

Migration from Post-Soviet countries to Poland and the Baltic States: trends and features

Abstract

This article aims to analyse migration from the post-Soviet space to the north-eastern periphery of the EU (Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia) and examines the hypothesis about these states, once countries of origin, turning into destinations for migrants. A change in the socio-economic paradigm and accession to the EU sped up economic development in the Baltics and Poland. Despite growing welfare and income levels and a decline in the unemployment rate, further economic growth was hampered by the outflow of skilled workforce and resulting labour shortages. In response, the governments of the Baltics and Poland drew up programmes to attract international labour. Soon these countries transformed from exporters of labour into importers. Unlike Western European countries, Poland and, to a lesser extent, the Baltic States are trying to attract migrants from neighbouring nations with similar cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In the long run, this strategy will facilitate migrant integration into the recipient society. The Polish and Lithuanian governments are devising measures to encourage ethnic Poles and Lithuanians to repatriate from post-Soviet republics. To achieve the aim of the study, we investigate the features of migration flows, trends in migration, migration policies of recipient countries, and the evolution of diaspora policies.

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Labour migrants from the Middle East Arab countries in Sweden: a paradigm shift

Abstract

Middle East Arab diasporas, primarily the Iraqi and Syrian ones, are playing an increasing role in the economy and demography of Sweden. This study aims to describe the formation of economically active diasporas in Sweden over the past three decades. There has been a paradigm shift in the immigration and business activity of people from the Middle East Arab countries in Sweden. Diaspora leadership changes depending on the situation in the countries of origin and migration phenomena driven by political and military shocks. This change affects the migration process and the role of communities in the economic life of the country. The study draws on the work of top research centres and data from leading Swedish and international statistical agencies. The rise and subsequent decline in Syrian immigration, which included labour migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, did not restore the unconditional leadership of the Iraqis among the Arab communities of Sweden. The significant business activity of Syrian immigrants, their professional skills, level of education, and broad business ties make the diaspora a likely leader in the Arab community. These four factors also contribute to easier migrant integration into Swedish society.

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Swedish Islamism as a social and political aspect in the formation of an ethno-confessional parallel society

Abstract

A new actor in the European geopolitical space — an ethno-religious “parallel society”- is transforming the social and political fabric of Sweden. An institutionalised Muslim parallel society is emerging in vulnerable areas, such as marginalised immigrant districts of Swedish cities, through the efforts of Islamist political, social, and economic structures adhering to the religious and political doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood (this organization is banned in the Russian Federation). Committed to maintaining the Muslim identity, these organisations seek gradual Islamisation of the Swedish population through ideological influence on immigrants with a Muslim background. These efforts thwart cultural assimilation attempts and hinder the implementation of Swedish integration policy. The lack of research into the peaceful Islamisation of Swedish society and the related problems of Islamophobia, anti-Muslim racism, and radicalisation of Muslim youth lends urgency to investigating the influence of Islamist organisations on the Swedish Muslim immigrant community. This study analyses the literature, sources, and statistics on the essential aspects of Swedish Islamisation to provide a holistic picture of the formation of an ethno-religious parallel society in Sweden. The findings help evaluate the effectiveness of the national policy on confronting parallel societies, as well as of measures to promote democratic values as the foundation of a united Swedish society.

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Rural Settlements in the Baltic Region

The effect of geographical position and employment fluctuations on rural settlement trends

Abstract

Structural changes in the economy and spatial and inter-settlement differences in living standards and quality of life lead to fundamental alterations in the national settlement system. Settlement polarisation is gathering momentum, along with the movement of rural population from Russia’s east and north to its southern and metropolitan regions. These processes benefit urban agglomerations. Typological differences between regional settlement systems, still poorly understood but essential for strategic and spatial planning, are growing. This article draws on the concept of the geographical demographic situation; it uses official statistics on Russian regions and Kaliningrad municipalities and settlements to explore the connection between rural settlement trends and employment fluctuations caused by structural shifts in Russian regional economies. It is shown how settlement polarisation affects differences in settlement trends of meso- and microdistrict levels. Regions are identified that have a capacity for rural-urban migration and corresponding rural employment structure and trends.

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Transport connectivity as a factor in overcoming challenges of the periphery: the case of rural areas in the Kaliningrad region

Abstract

Quality of life in rural areas is increasingly dependent on transport links to nearest towns and regional centres. In this article, we examine transport connectivity between villages and towns in the Kaliningrad region. We use the travel time access parameter to investigate the influence of transport connectivity on the population size and the prospects of socio-economic development in rural areas with different transport and geographical situations. Although the overall transport connectivity is high in the region, up to 10 per cent of villages score low on this parameter. We conclude that the demographic saturation of the Kaliningrad agglomeration has not been completed. Moreover, the smallness of the local consumer market impedes the formation of subregional centres in the eastern part of the region. The most alarming trend is the incipient concentration of population in peripheral border areas.

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