Transformation of the rural settlement pattern and social services network in rural areas
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The changes in the rural settlement structure in Russia from 1959 to 2010 are considered. The key trend, namely, polarization of the network, rapid growth in the number of the smallest settlements, and slight growth in the number of the largest ones, accompanied by the simultaneous erosion of small and medium settlements, is revealed. The effects of natural, economic, and migration factors, as well as the position relative to major cities, are shown. Six types of regions in terms of the rural settlement pattern are defined based on the parameters of the average population size, settlement structure by number of residents, and the dynamics of settlements. It is shown that the degradation of the system of local social services centers attached to agricultural enterprises, and the depopulation of rural settlements in many Russian regions lead to the inevitable adaptation to new conditions. The large number of people living in settlements with a population below 200 residents may be considered an indicator for determining regions, where the available network of social services (education and healthcare) institutions will transform faster. Calculations show that regional authorities generally tend to take into account the peculiarities of settlement patterns in the process of optimizing the social infrastructure; however, these processes are either unreasonably slow or extremely fast in a number of regions.
Keywordsrural settlement pattern typology for Russia depopulation of rural areas polarization of the rural settlement network concentration of population optimization of social infrastructure
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