Coping with employment issues through commuting: Evidence from Central Russia

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Commuting to work has become a widespread practice over the last several decades. Some relatively strong employment issues in rural Russian municipalities, as well as a significant wage gap between them and the major cities, fosters daily commuting as well as commuting with long periods of time spent at employment locations, known in Russia as otkhodnichestvo. Based on official statistical data and our own surveys conducted in Tula and Kostroma regions, we analysed the spatial differentiations between the share of commuters in the employed population of rural municipalities, as well as the variations in individual socio-economic characteristics between rural commuters and non-commuters, in general, and between the commuters themselves. Our analysis of the latter characteristics suggests that there is in fact more difference between the rural commuters and non-commuters in Russia than between daily commuters and those engaged in otkhodnichestvo, indicating similar motives and, perhaps, even personalities of commuters. Giving the identified differences, commuting on a larger scale does not seem to be a universal tool to cope with employment issues, as some population groups are more likely to engage in it than others.

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