On 13 November at 15 Kadi Mägi will defend her doctoral thesis „Ethnic residential segregation and integration of the Russian-speaking population in Estonia“.
Senior Research Fellow Kadri Leetmaa (TÜ ÖMI)
Professor Gideon Bolt (Utrecht University, Netherlands)
This thesis focuses on ethnic residential segregation and integration of large Russian-speaking population in Estonia who formed mainly in the Soviet period and who settled in larger cities and industrial areas, where they in turn concentrated to certain neighbourhoods. Ethnic divisions in different domains of daily life have received quite a lot of attention, however, there is a lack of research on ethnic residential segregation from the perspective of individuals. This thesis fills this gap and explores how and why the ethnic residential segregation context changes for members of the majority and minority population of Estonia, and how living in different ethnic contexts may affect individual’s acculturation processes. The findings of this thesis show that high levels of ethnic residential segregation in Estonia are very persistent and have even increased. The mobility behavior of both Estonians and Russian-speakers have contributed to these trends. The Russian-speaking population has been relatively immobile within the last decades and their residential patterns are therefore largely similar to those developed in the Soviet period. When Russian-speakers change their place of residence, they predominantly move towards minority concentration neighbourhoods. Furthermore, most of their moves result in an increased presence of Russian-speakers in their immediate residential environment. In contrast to Russian-speakers, when Estonians move their destination neighbourhood generally turns more Estonian. Russian-speakers have lived in Estonia for a long time already, however, most of the members of the minority population strongly self-identify themselves with Russian identity. The results of this thesis indicate that ethnic residential context which frames individuals’ lives is essential in the development of ethnic identity and those Russians and Russian-speakers who live in Estonian-dominated neighbourhoods and regions are more likely to change their ethnic identity to Estonian compared to those who live in minority-rich areas. This thesis has also highlighted some of the most problematic trends in the development of ethnic segregation in Estonia: ethnic segregation is increasingly overlapping with socio-economic segregation.