Population Dynamics of Centers and Secondary Cities of Russia’s Regions: Trends Towards Polycentricity?
The paper studies population dynamics of 75 regional centers and secondary cities in the Russia’s
regions. The information base for the analysis was population census data from 1959 to 2010 and the current
population accounting for 2011–2017. In the vast majority of regions, the center dominates over the secondary
city significantly. This manifests itself both in the absolute parameters of the population and in the share
of centers and secondary cities in the populations of their regions. In 31 Russian regions, the share of the center
by 2002 had already reached 35% and continued to grow. After 15 years, it exceeded 45% in 13 regions.
The upper limit of the possible population concentration in the regional center has not yet been revealed.
Over time, the prevalence of centers over secondary cities has been increasing. The analysis showed that the
possibilities of population increase in secondary cities depend on the size of said population: among secondary
cities with a population greater than 250 000, they continue to increase; among secondary small cities, the
share between depopulating and growing cities hardly changes at all. Thus, trends towards centrism in the
regions prevail over polycentricity. The population is increasingly concentrated at separate points, vested with
power. These processes are based on historical and evolutionary (history of settlement, development, and
urbanization), functional–economic, administrative-territorial, and demographic determinants. Recently,
an increasingly important factor contributing to population concentration is the institutional factor (associated
with the execution of capital functions by regional centers and reducing the costs of business and consumers).