The authors discuss social and demographic processes in the rural regions of the Russian Near North and, first of all, in the Kostroma region – one of the socially problematic regions in the Russian Federation. In the article, the attention is focused on the analysis of mechanisms and assessment of scales of the depopulation: high mortality, migration of youth and middle aged people to the cities, deformations in age and gender structure with prevalence of the elderly population and a small share of children. The authors state essential distinctions of demographic indicators between municipalities in the Kostroma region and emphasize importance of social and demographic research on a basic municipal level. Indicators of the low life expectancy, high mortality caused by external reasons (alcoholism, murders, suicides, etc.), and high migration of youth are seen as the objective indicators of social problems in the local communities. It demands special attention on the part of the government authorities that plan social programs and take administrative decisions.