Diaspora Adaptation Strategies For Migrants In Russia's Cross-Border Territories


The purpose of the research is to analyze human capital in the context of migration processes, various components that affect the adaptation of migrants in the context of the formation of diasporic communities of recent arrivals, as well as old-age cohorts of migrants in seven border regions of modern Russian society. The article describes the assessment of migrants ' satisfaction with basic aspects of life in the regions of arrival, which together reproduces a certain strategic level of naturalization of migrants in the regions. The author describes the current trends of absorption and naturalization of migrants in the host environment of the Russian border area. It was concluded that in the studied territories there is an intensive process of institutionalization of migration. Migration processes are characterized by increasing formality, regularity, and selectivity. Cohorts of migrants have separated into social strata with their own reproductive mechanisms. Maintaining migrant population and life support has led to the strengthening of the socializing role of the migrant environment, diasporas, and the development of service structures that meet their material needs and cultural positioning in Russian society. In the course of sociological research of migration processes, it was found that regional trends repeat the all-Russian ones, but are aggravated by the specifics of the border area. They are indicators of socio-economic crisis processes. Arriving migrants partially solve the problem of depopulation of the population of border regions. On the other hand, they provoke tension in regional labor markets.

Keywords: Adaptation, migrants, naturalization, human capital


Global trends of our time are characterized by the mass movement of the excessive Asian population to the countries of Europe. At the end of 2018, Russia ranked third in the world in terms of the number of migrants – 11.9 million people. The first place is traditionally given to the United States, with 46.6 million migrants; the second place to Germany – 12 million people (De Haas, 2010). Migration processes in Russia, including its border territories, are characterized by increased institutionalization of this phenomenon. The migration process has become more structured, regulated, and selective. There are a progressive absorption and naturalization of the migration flow.

Cohorts of migrants from certain social strata in the border territories of Russia. Their legal institutionalization is increasing. At the same time, wave processes of the transition of the majority of migrants from shadow to official zones in the regions of arrival are registered. Modern migration trends are constantly changing. According to official statistics, migration to Russia from neighboring countries decreased by about 8% in 2019 compared to the previous year. On the other hand, the number of migrants officially registered in the migration services of Russian regions has increased by more than 300,000 people. Thus, the sector of illegal migration is being reduced.

The processes of official employment and professional activity of migrants are being stabilized. Migrants form a network of national service structures. Rapidly growing diasporas realize not only the satisfaction of migrants ' living conditions but also their cultural positioning in Russian society. Also, social mechanisms of economic reproduction of strata of migrants have been formed (Sinatti & Horst, 2015).

At the same time, there are certain barriers to adaptation and naturalization of migrants, which are becoming an extremely urgent task for host communities. We present some indicators of integration of migrants, obtained by analyzing the distribution of responses from representatives of diasporas in seven border regions of Russia.

Problem Statement

In the conditions of depopulation of Russia borderland population, the quality and structure of human capital is indirectly determined by intensive migration infusions. Under human capital, we understand the synthesis of the body of knowledge, educational and professional potential of the entire population of the country, as well as individual spiritual and psychophysical components of each individual (Cherepanova et al., 2019).

In the process of increasing migration, a number of social problems are being updated, such as national security, social adaptation, socialization, and naturalization of arriving non-ethnic citizens in local communities. In the regions of the Russian border, however, as elsewhere in the world, the separate and compact existence of national communities is changing to a dispersed, diasporic form of organization of diaspora societies. Differentiated adaptation scenarios for old-resident and newly arriving cohorts of the population are being formed.

By adaptive strategies of diasporic communities, we understand a system of institutionalized social practices aimed at optimizing the construction of a new identity of migrants, which harmoniously combines the processes of internalization and exteriorization of interethnic and intercultural norms and values in the region of residence.

We identified adaptive strategies based on the analysis of the following criteria: the degree of trust in diasporas; assessment of the processes of ethnic self-identification; subjective assessments of migrants ' influence on their residence in Russia; the intensity of interaction between migrants and the diaspora; assessment of the need for adaptation measures, etc.

The degree of trust in a social institution is one of the basic criteria on which the adaptive strategy of the diaspora community is formed (Ragazzi, 2009). Only a fifth of migrants in regions completely trust diaspora. The average level of trust is characteristic of every third arrived, and points to the contextuality of such trust. Every fifth migrant points out the low or lack of trust in diasporic communities, emphasizing the insufficient capacity of this institution to adapt newcomers in the Russian Federation.

The highest degree of trust in diasporas prevails in the Pskov region, where the largest number of migrants with a high level of adaptation and integration of migrants into the local community is recorded. In addition, it is the Pskov region where the largest number of migrants with a high assessment of their residence status in Russia has been identified. In general, there are no clear, statistically significant regional differences, but rather general trends are being implemented, with the predominance of the average, situational level of trust in the institution of diasporas. The influence of diasporas on the adaptation of migrants in the region is determined, in one way or another, on basis of the dynamics of the ethnicity of citizens and their desire to assimilate the culture of the regions of arrival.

Research Questions

The subject of the research is models of diasporic adaptation strategies for migrants in seven border territories of Russia.

We study the features of the processes of institutionalization of cohorts of migrants to host regions in the context of the functioning of human capital in Russian territories.

The rating of migrants ' demand for significant adaptation activities in the process of naturalization of migrants in the regions of arrival is analyzed.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the work is to identify the specifics of adaptation strategies of migrants in various border territories of Russia.

Research Methods

The research was carried out using methods of theoretical analysis, modeling, and sociological survey. Methods of mathematical statistics: one-dimensional and multidimensional frequency analysis. Method of logistic regression of research data.


As the results of the study indicate, dual citizenship is a widespread phenomenon among migrants. For example, every tenth visitor has Russian and Tajik, Korean, Ukrainian, Kyrgyz, Kazakh, Armenian, etc. citizenship.

The time spent by migrants in Russia's border regions is differentiated. A third of visitors stay in Russia for more than three years. A fifth of migrants have been living in the Russian Federation for more than 5 years, creating objective conditions for adaptation and naturalization of migrants in the territory of their stay.

A quarter of visitors stresses the need for adaptation measures. Migrants who have arrived in the regions of Russia and are staying there for a month or up to six months are in the greatest need of assistance (Maximova et al., 2019).

The rating of current adaptation areas was headed by the study of the Russian language, legal support, preparation of necessary documentation, etc.

There is a significant regional specificity of the naturalization of migrants. For example, the Altai territory is characterized by the greatest transitivity and mobility of migrant groups. Migrants often use the region as a temporary platform for adaptation, then moving to other more economically developed regions.

The Orenburg region is characterized by the predominance of the most stable cohorts of migrants. This fact indicates a more effective adaptation, appropriate factors, and conditions for socialization in the region.

Identical trends are typical for the Murmansk and Pskov regions (Cherepanova et al., 2019).

In the Rostov region, as well as in the Republic of Dagestan, all the periods for migrants staying have been revealed, which emphasizes the intensity of the dynamics of migration processes and its wave character.

Thus, regional societies form a specific adaptive environment for the naturalization of migrants, which should be taken into account when correcting migration policy in the regions.

It is necessary to summarize that every second migrant came to Russia for the first time, while the second half of the arrivals are considered as a kind of watchdog cohorts, some of whom have lived here for more than 10 years, periodically returning home to meet their family.

According to the study, intra-country, inter-regional and inter-country migration are equally present in the Russian border area. At the same time, the global trend of the predominance of migrant flows from Asia and the East is repeated.

In the context of the analysis of localization within the Russian migration, migrants from the Republic of Altai, Komi, Tyva, and Khabarovsk territory predominate, thus indicating pockets of special economic disadvantage.

The rating of inter-country migration is led by the Asian republics of the former Soviet Union, also reflecting the crisis trends in these regions. Most of the migrants come to the Russian border areas from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. A significant number of visitors are also registered from Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Romania, Turkey, etc.

Excessive bureaucratization of arrival processes significantly reduces the effectiveness of migrants ' adaptation. In particular, many of them spend significant amounts of money to side organizations that help them come to the country, bypassing the official, but difficult, and long-achievable conditions of arrival. For example, according to our data, one in three migrants paid those who helped them pass the border. In their homeland, one in five future migrants paid for assistance in potential employment in Russia. Only ten percent of migrants did not pay such side and unofficial collection of fees.

The revealed trend confirms the inefficiency of migration policy, contributes to corruption processes, forming shadow structures. Besides, this situation reveals specific niches of the migration situation in the regions of the Russian border. It can indicate the localization of illegal migration flows (Kleist, 2008).

The obtained data are intended to form the basis of recommendations for regional migration services to optimize migration security both in the regions and in the country as a whole. In addition, leveling or partially minimizing these negative phenomena would allow accumulating significant finance in the country, a significant part of which is currently settled in the countries of origin of migrants.

According to statistics, currently about half of the migrants are in Russia illegally. More than eight hundred thousand migrants pretend to go home, still staying in the regions of Russia.

Other data show that one in three migrants is not working legally in Russia.

In this regard, there is dynamic growth in the deportation of migrants to their countries of residence. All this indicates the need to optimize migration policy. First of all, it would be economically beneficial for the regions of Russia.

These trends are repeated in the regions we study. For example, a significant illegal migration is recorded in the Pskov region. Moreover, since 2013, it has been constantly increasing.

The study revealed a growing trend of transit migration in the Russian border area. For example, taking the advantage of temporarily staying in the Russian Federation for initial adaptation, migrants leave for Azerbaijan, Armenia, Latvia, Belarus, India, Kazakhstan, China, Romania, the United States, England, Tajikistan, and Ukraine. The transitivity of migration processes creates new social challenges and risks for Russian society (Raghuram, 2009).

Labor migration prevails among migrants of the Russian border area, following the trends of world migration. However, the dynamics of the growth of educational migration is revealed. Almost one in four young migrants came to Russia to get a prestigious education.

Integration with the Asian-African educational space is being strengthened. In particular, the flow of students from China, Mongolia, and Africa is growing in the Altai territory. The number of students has increased by more than 2 times. Currently, citizens from more than 30 countries study at Russian universities.

The analysis of the results shows that a positive attitude towards migrant children prevails in the studied border territories. Every third resident treats the children of non-ethnic citizens well and half of the respondents rather well. However, there is a small conflict potential in this context. For example, one in ten residents of the border region has a certain aversion to the fact that their children study with migrant children. On the other hand, the same number of diaspora members experience significant dissatisfaction with the negative attitude towards their children in the educational institutions of the country of arrival. The identified trend needs social control and minimization by strengthening socializing measures.

At the same time, the members of diasporas show greater tolerance and optimism in solving this problem, as compared to the population of the host regions. This fact is associated with the growth of the socializing role of the Diaspora Institute, which gives an important role to national communities in achieving social integration with increasing migration flows.

A significant regional specificity has been identified, about forecasting interethnic conflicts related to attitudes towards migrant children. For example, in the Altai territory, the majority of the population (more than 80 %) showed loyalty to the children of migrants. In the Murmansk region, the largest number of citizens was identified who found it difficult to answer this question and were unable to express themselves on this issue. The Pskov region was distinguished by the most positive attitude to migrant children (about 90 %). The Republic of Dagestan had the minimum number of citizens who were tolerant to the children of non-ethnic citizens (only 54 %). At the same time, a third of citizens could not express their position.

The analysis of the dynamics of migrants ' plans to stay or return to their homeland identifies specific adaptation strategies, as well as the motivation of non-ethnic citizens for successful socialization and integration in Russian territories. According to the results of the study, about 80 % of visitors want to return home after saving the necessary amount of money. Providing currently important assistance to the family living in the homeland. Thus, temporary labor migration tops the rating of the reasons for social mobility.

Solving the problem of relative or absolute improvement of their financial situation motivates migrants to return to the country of origin and minimizes the motivation of non-ethnic citizens to social adaptation. On the contrary, it encourages conservatism and excessive fanaticism in defending their ethno-cultural manifestations, hinders the acquisition of Russian values and norms of life. A fifth of the cohorts of migrants were not able to determine their forecasts and plans at the time of the survey, which is probably stimulated by the high level of uncertainty and risks of staying in a different country for citizens. About the same number of migrants plan to use Russia as a country of temporary residence, as a transit platform for other movements.

The transit nature of migration is an indicator of the insufficient effectiveness of Russia's migration policy. In addition, it reflects the deepening of the social and economic crisis that is typical for most cross-border Russian territories. Migrants consider Belarus, Germany, Korea, Romania, and Turkey to be the most attractive countries for further migration.

Interregional intra-Russian migration is also relevant to the Russian border area. The rating of the popular territories is headed by the European part of the country, as well as territories with a relatively more prosperous economic situation, such as Tyumen, Novosibirsk.

In the context of the analysis of the human capital structure of the Russian border area, it is significant that every third migrant of the Russian border area would like to stay in Russia forever. According to the modern Russian demographers' estimates, these human resources could compensate for the lack of labor in the regional labor markets, thereby contributing to the social and economic optimization of the regions as a whole. In modern times, the majority of Russian territories are characterized by a negative demographic balance, significant losses, including those of the able-body population. The problem is compounded by the revealed dynamics of the decline in the Russian population until 2050. The structural changes will also affect the reduction of the share of the young population and the rapid aging of the country's population.

In the current conditions, the importance of not only return migration of our compatriots but also migration from foreign countries is significantly increasing. It means to improve the effectiveness of the migration policy of the country's cross-border territories.

A retrospective analysis of migration trends revealed that the influx of migrants over the past 20 years helped to compensate for half of the demographic losses of the country's population in the process of its natural decline (Clifford, 2014).

The territories we study are characterized by a special crisis in the functioning of human capital, its acute deficit, which in particular can be explained by their border location, remoteness from the center, and a low level of social and economic development of the territories.

Thus, migration flows to these territories may become indicators not only of growth but also of the future existence of such regions. A statistical analysis of the state of human capital in Dagestan, the Altai territory, Murmansk, and Pskov regions has shown that the influx of migrants is extremely important for optimizing these territories. There has been revealed a regional specificity, that migrants choose the Altai territory, Orenburg, Murmansk, Rostov regions more often for a long or even permanent stay and work. Dagestan and the Pskov region appear to be more transit regions for migrants.


A systematic analysis of various components of migrants 'adaptation in the conditions of active diasporization of territories has allowed us to identify the following empirical models of naturalization for migrants.

The Altai territory is characterized by a positive role of national communities in the process of adaptation of migrants. However, we have identified a rating of popular adaptation measures. It is headed by the organization of adaptation centers, protection of legal and social interests of newly arrived non-ethnic citizens. Every second migrant has sufficient confidence in the regional institution of diasporas in this region. The region is characterized by the formation of a constructivist strategy for the adaptation of migrants. The essence of this strategy is the optimal trend of ethnic transformation, a progressing pace of acculturation of migrants. The majority of migrants, at the stage of effective adaptation and integration, are registered in the region. The level of maladaptation and marginalization of migrants in the region is extremely low.

Contradictory trends are registered in Dagestan. More than half of migrants are at a sufficient level of adaptation and integration into the local community, while experiencing a high level of trust in local diasporas. However, a third of migrants indicate that there are certain problems in adaptation. The region has a relatively high percentage of migrants who are isolated or marginalized. These trends are confirmed by the high demand of migrants for adaptation measures, such as a legal and economic protection of migrants.

Consequently, the adaptive potential of local diasporas has not been fully realized in the region.

In addition, in the Republic of Dagestan, some conflict potential of the population and migrants with enclavization has been identified. It should be taken into account when minimizing the risk of interethnic contradictions.

Summing up the results of the research, we can conclude that the knowledge of models of naturalization of migrants in cross-border regions allow predicting inter-ethnic integration and the dynamics of human capital functioning in Russia.


The work was carried out within the framework of the state task of the Ministry of science and higher education of the Russian Federation FZMW-2020-0001 "Human capital, migration and security: transformation in the new migration conditions in Central Asia".


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Cherepanova, M. I., Borisova, O. V., Ebeling, E. O., Sariglar, S. A., & Scheglova, D. K. (2021). Diaspora Adaptation Strategies For Migrants In Russia's Cross-Border Territories. In D. K. Bataev, S. A. Gapurov, A. D. Osmaev, V. K. Akaev, L. M. Idigova, M. R. Ovhadov, A. R. Salgiriev, & M. M. Betilmerzaeva (Eds.), Knowledge, Man and Civilization - ISCKMC 2020, vol 107. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 1464-1471). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.05.193