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Keywords:

  • Migration;
  • event history analysis;
  • Soviet Estonia

ABSTRACT

Conventional research has used aggregate statistics and bivariate methods in studying migration in Soviet society and has stressed the critical role of a single (usually structural) determinant in an individual's migration. This research tests the dominant view, using individual level data and multivariate methods. The objective is to clarify the extent to which structural-environmental factors and the extent to which personal characteristics determined the first residence and migration of Russian-born Estonians in post-war Estonia. The data of the retrospective survey on 265 ethnic Estonians born in Russia between 1915 and 1969 and settled in Estonia between 1940 and 1988 are used. It appears that the first residence and migration of the ethnic Estonians was shaped by an immigration cohort – the variable reflecting structural-environmental conditions. However, several personal characteristics – age, earlier life-environment, language usage and education – also turned out to be important determinants of residence and migration of the ethnic Estonians. The results provide evidence to the view that migration in the Soviet Union was a complex outcome of interaction of structural forces and people's preferences, and therefore differed less from other parts of the world than often presumed.