Russians leave the north

In eight years the number of inhabitants in the Murmansk Region has decreased by 97 000 people. Depopulation due to young people who migrate south is a huge problem for Murmansk region, says Vice Chairman of the Murmansk Regional Duma, Igor Chernyshenko .


Today the number of inhabitants in Murmansk Oblast is 795 000 people, which is an 11 percent decline over the last eight years. However, if we look at the population decline since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the population has dropped from 1.2 million inhabitants in the late 1980ties.

According to Chernichenko there is nothing that indicate that the situation is about to change.

“In the Soviet Union there were a lot of extra benefits for people living in the north. The wages were higher and we had an extra week of holiday. The benefits are now gone and the wages are the same as elsewhere in Russia,” says Chernyshenko.

Igor Chernyshenko
Igor Chernyshenko is vice chairman of the Regional Duma in Murmansk, representing United Russia. (Foto: Jonas Karlsbakk)

With loss of benefits there has been a huge migration southwards, which also is the main reason for the population decline. Of the overall population decline, 84 percent is due to migration. The Murmansk region is also highly urbanized, with 93 percent of the people living in urban areas.

Chernyshenko says that of the 795 000 people living in Murmansk Oblast, 243 000 people are senior citizens. The growing population of senior citizens has become a big challenge for Murmansk, as the main groups of people who migrate are young people.

“When young people can have the same annual salary in more southern and central parts of Russia, they see no reason to stay in the cold Murmansk climate any more. So they move.”