Kadi Mägi PhD defence 13.November 2018

Today Kadi Mägi defended her PhD thesis „Ethnic residential segregation and integration of the Russian-speaking population in Estonia“.

Senior researcher Dr. Kadri Leetmaa (University of Tartu)

Prof. Gideon Bolt (Utrechti University, The Netherlands)

Senior researcher Dr Kadri Leetmaa, Dr. Kadi Mägi and Dr. Gideon Bolt

Senior researcher Dr Kadri Leetmaa, Dr. Kadi Mägi and Dr. Gideon Bolt


This thesis focuses on ethnic residential segregation and integration of large Russian-speaking population in Estonia who formed mainly in the Soviet period and who settled in larger cities and industrial areas where they in turn concentrated to certain neighbourhoods. Ethnic divisions in different domains of life have received quite a lot of attention, however, there is a lack of studies that investigate ethnic residential segregation from the perspective of individuals. This thesis tries to fill this gap and aims to explore how and why ethnic residential segregation context changes for members of the majority and minority population of Estonia and how living in different ethnic contexts may affect individual’s acculturation processes. The findings of this thesis show that high levels of ethnic residential segregation in Estonia are very persistent and have even increased. The mobility behavior of both ethnic groups have contributed to these trends. Russian-speaking population has been relatively immobile within the last decades and therefore, their residential patterns are largely similar to those developed in the Soviet period. When Russian-speakers change their place of residence, they predominantly move towards minority concentration neighbourhoods and most of their moves result in an increased presence of Russian-speakers in their immediate residential environment. In contrast, when Estonians move, their destination neighbourhood generally turns more Estonian. Russian-speakers have lived in Estonia for a long time already, however, most of the members of the minority population strongly self-identify themselves with Russian identity. The results of this thesis indicate that ethnic residential context which frames individuals’ lives is essential in the development of ethnic identity and those Russians and Russian-speakers who live in Estonian-dominated neighbourhoods and regions are more likely to change their ethnic identity to Estonian compared to those who live in minority-rich areas. This thesis has also highlighted some of the most problematic trends in the development of ethnic segregation in Estonia: ethnic segregation is increasingly overlapping with socio-economic segregation

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