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Working paper

A Life-Course Study on the Migration Biographies of Russians

Espy IV T. H., Mitrofanova E. S.
Migration in any context may be approached from myriad perspectives and with varied techniques; in this study, we examine migration in Russia using the life-course perspective. We investigate two core issues: the factors of migration and the position of migration in the Russian life course. In addition, we perform data exploration and assess at what stage of the Zelinsky mobility transition model Russia is. We use exploratory analytical tools and life-course analytical methods such as event history analysis (EHA) and sequence analysis (SA) in this study. The exploratory data analysis (EDA) and EHA reveal interesting, albeit in some cases contradictory, results. We find that Russians are not very mobile, particularly in large cities; movement more often occurs in mid-sized cities and towns. One intriguing observation is the prevalence of what may well be return migration to rural areas among women born in 1990-1995. Furthermore, the military is shown empirically to be a major factor; in all, we find that enlistment, sex, generation, and type of education are significant factors in migration, with soldiers, women, younger generations, and those with higher education exhibiting higher likelihoods of migration. The SA results show that migration is often positioned as a starting event in Russians biographies; more interestingly, it is also positioned to work potentially as a deferment or avoidance tool (e.g., draft avoidance). Our observations and test results lead us to conclude that Russia is at the “advanced society” stage of the Zelinsky mobility transition model.