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

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Enel Pungas PhD defence 13.11.2018

Today our PhD student Enel Pungas defended her PhD thesis “Differences in migration intentions by ethnicity and education: the case of Estonia”
Supervisor: Prof. Tiit Tammaru (University of Tartu)
Opponent: Prof Zaiga Krisjane (University of Latvia)

Prof. Tiit Tammaru, Dr Enel Pungas and Prof. Zaiga Krisjane


This thesis contributes to studies of East-West migration in the light of discussions on “brain drain” and “brain gain” in Europe, and in the view of challenges related to the integration of ethnic minorities in Estonia, the general objective of the current thesis is to find out what is the role ethnicity and education in the formation of migration intentions. The Estonian case is interesting for studying the relationship between migration – education, and migration – ethnicity because Estonia has experienced significant emigration since 1991, has performed better in economic terms than many other new member states, has a sizeable Russian-speaking minority population. The proportion of university-educated people in the emigrant population is much less than in the total Estonian population before and after Estonia joined the EU. This is different from many other countries involved in the East-West migration in Europe, including the territories of the former Soviet Union. The share of the university-educated has decreased over time among Estonian emigrants. The increase of emigration in the 2000s was also due to the growing number of rural inhabitants among emigrants. The analysis of the association between education and intentions of return migration shows that education level in itself is not strictly related to returning plans. However, over education in the host country labour market is clearly associated with an elevated willingness to return. A similar, though a somewhat weaker result, is obtained for vocational education. Individuals who obtained (at least part) of their education in Finland are more willing to return in the first years following the migration, while their returning tendency shows a more negative duration dependency. This suggests that host country education leads to better prospects for social integration. We find significant interaction effects between the level of education and ethnicity. Since 2004, both lower educated and highly educated Russians have higher odds to emigrate than Russians with secondary education. This phenomenon seems to suggest that well-educated ethnic minorities do not enjoy equal opportunities for good careers in Estonia with Estonians. Ethnic minorities are much more willing to continue studies abroad than members of the majority population, which shows that ethnic differences are profound. Ethnic minorities are considerably less inclined to return. This may be explained by either less attachment to Estonia or perceived discrimination in that country. Differentiation between school type’s shows that compared to graduates from Estonian-language schools, graduates from Russian-language schools are significantly more willing to continue their studies abroad―and surprisingly, and intentions to leave are even stronger among graduates from mixed-language schools. Those respondents who identify themselves as ethnic Estonians but study at Russian-language schools are more prone to continue their studies abroad compared to ethnic Estonians studying at Estonian-language schools. Ethnic divides run deep regarding the intentions to study abroad. Of the “Big Five” personality traits, Openness associates positively with the probability of willingness to continue studies abroad. Children of parents with a university degree are much more willing to continue their studies abroad. Mobility capital and social capital―having studied abroad before and having friends or family members elsewhere, respectively―also matter. Such experience and networks make the decision to study abroad more likely. The findings of this thesis have opened up the factors influencing migration intentions in Estonia, but simultaneously complemented the knowledge on East-West migration in general. Estonia is moving from one migration regime, being an emigration country, to another migration regime, being an immigration country. However, due to the complex and dynamic nature of international migration, a great deal is yet to be uncovered. When doing that it is essential to take into consideration the growing cultural diversity of people living in Estonia, and the related need for re-evaluating integration programmes in Estonia. Emigration, return migration, re-emigration, cross-border commuting and other forms of temporary migration will most likely also characterize the currently evolving new migration regime of Estonia.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

New PhD student in CMUS team

Oguz-KusOğuz Kuş from Istanbul University, faculty of communication has joined our research team for the next three months.

His main interest is hate speech. According to his own words: “When it comes to my research interests, I generally conduct studies on how discriminative discourse or hate-speech spread on digital media. I try to understand features and dissemination levels of this kind of behaviour on digital media via text mining technique. These days, as a result of current context, I started to focus on analyzing hate speech against Syrian refugees on digital platforms. I published couple of articles and conference presentations on this issue.”

Purpose of his visit to Estonia is increasing  knowledge on the theory of immigration and to find a common ground to establish a dialogue between migration theory and public relations literature. Because, he believes that public relations might play a key role in integration process of refugees with its multidimensional and tolerant nature.

To contact Oğuz Kuş please write: oguz.kus@istanbul.edu.tr

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Kadri Leetmaa is the new director of CMUS team

Senior researcher in human geography – Dr. Kadri Leetmaa is the new director of the Centre for Migration and Urban Studies from 2018 to 2020.

foto LeetmaaKadri joined our team already 2005 as a PhD student. Since then she has been supervisor for many students at various study levels and senior collegue for many junior researchers. Many of us have initially joined with our research team as her student.

Kadri’s main ambitions are related to developing a scientifically productive research team and to further increase the visibility and impact of our Centre. „We would like to be a creative team, inspiring each other, students from Estonia and abroad and our international partners“, she says, „we aim to be visible at international conferences as well as a valuable partner for decision makers in Estonia“.

Our director for the last two years, Dr. Daniel B. Hess, has succesfully finished his  work in Estonia on the research of the Soviet-era estates in Baltic states and has returned to the US. His new work will be the chair of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at University at Buffalo, effective January 1, 2018.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

National URBACT point in Estonia

NEstoniaational URBACT Point in Estonia is now at University of Tartu, Centre for Migration and Urban Studies.

URBACT enables cities to work together to develop new and sustainable solutions to major urban challenges, through networking, sharing knowledge, and building capacities for urban practitioners. It is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and EU Partner and Member States since 2002.

For more information: http://urbact.eu/urbact-eesti or www.urbact.eu

NUP Estonia contact person: Kadri Leetmaa, kadri.leetmaa@ut.ee

Posted in News | Leave a comment

Human development report 2016/17


Human Development Report 2016/2017 “Estonia in the Age of Migration” is readable online in both Estonian and English on www.inimareng.ee/en.

Main messages of the Human Development Report 2016/2017

  1. Well-being and immigration are closely related to each other and, according to the human development index, human well-being in Estonia in the last 25 years is one of the fastest growing in Europe.
  2. Therefore, an image of Estonia as a country of emigration is now crumbling; there are more and more people who want to live in Estonia.
  3. Immigration cannot be a magic wand that will solve all the problems in Estonia.
  4. Estonia is pressing to adopt so-called a Cinderella-type migration policy, which is not viable. Cinderella did all the unpleasant work in the stepfamily, but she did not succeed in integrating into the family. If we look at the recent history of Estonia and to what is happening in other European cities, we can see how problematic a Cinderella-type immigration policy is.
  5. We have to consider immigration; however, the cornerstone of economic sustainability, in particular, is climbing up the value chain, which will also increase the tax revenue.
  6. The base of demographic sustainability is, primarily, a family policy, and there cannot be too much of this. A housing policy is one of the unused measures.
  7. Cultural and lingual sustainability can be assured if we take a broader view of the Estonian identity. In the migration era, the Estonian identity is no longer uniquely linked to the territory of Estonia. Today, Estonia is a multinational country, with its interconnected villages and towns both abroad and in Estonia.
Posted in News | Leave a comment

Mari Nuga defended her doctoral thesis

On 28th december our PhD student Mari Nuga defended her doctoral thesis “Soviet-era summerhouses. On homes and planning in post-socialist suburbia”

Supervisor: Senior Research Fellow in Human Geography Kadri Leetmaa

Oponent: Professor Craig Young (Manchester Metropolitan University, UK)

Full thesis available here: http://dspace.ut.ee/handle/10062/53241

14468292_550806051776508_886861927867173092_o  14524390_550806055109841_7269917818536605643_o14524971_550805981776515_5418877831174204173_o


Posted in News | Leave a comment

CMUS team’s new director is Dr. Daniel B. Hess

D Hess with V Kalm

Dr. Daniel B. Hess and Rector of University of Tartu Volli Kalm

The Centre for Migration and Urban Studies at the University of Tartu is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Daniel B. Hess as a new Director. The Centre explores contemporary challenges facing urban regions including migration, residential mobility, housing and neighbourhood change, as well as the integration of immigrants and ethnic minorities across multiple life domains (such as places of residence and work, as well as intermarriages).

“We have worked with Daniel successfully for several years already,” said Professor Tiit Tammaru the outgoing Director. “We were very happy when he received a prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship from the European Commission that allows us to elevate our collaborative research to a higher and more competitive level.”

Dr. Hess is a Professor in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. In Estonia, his research focuses on the formation, evolution and current planning challenges of large panel housing areas. He opted to join the Centre because its excellent international reputation. “I am delighted by the high quality of research in the Centre,” said Dr. Hess. “There are five major European-funded projects running at the moment addressing various aspects of mobility, segregation and planning, and the team is young and energetic. Estonia is a small country, and this allows the researchers to be closely linked to decision makers, making research socially relevant in impressive ways.”

The Dean of Social Sciences at the University of Tartu, Professor Raul Eamets, appreciates the appointment of Daniel Hess very much. He said, “One of the important strategic goals of the University of Tartu is the improve its international visibility. Dr. Hess is the first non-EU scholar in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship program’s history to win the award at the University of Tartu. We warmly welcome him as the new Director of the the Centre for Migration and Urban Studies and we wish him a fruitful stay in Tartu.”

For more information contact: Daniel B. Hess daniel.baldwin.hess@ut.ee



Posted in News | Leave a comment

American planning students visiting CMUS

Architecture and urban planning students from University of Buffalo and Alfred State College came to visit us at the end of May. The group was led by professor and our visiting scholar Daniel Hess.  During the visit the students had a tour in Tallinn, where they learned about city and transportation planning. They also visited Kiviõli, Narva, Sillamäe and spent a week in Tartu.

At University of Tartu Geography department the students started working on their planning projects. At the end of the 48hour planning challenge the students presented their recommendations for Urban Regeneration Schemes in Tartu City Centre (presented by teams of Estonian and American students). IMG_3301                                                  Students and professor Hess at Narva.

PicMonkey Collage             Preparing the planning projects at University of Tartu Geography department.

IMG_8362Students presenting their recommendations for Urban Regeneration Schemes in Tartu City Centre.


Posted in News | Leave a comment

Suburbanisation in France

2016-04-06 12.12.30Coline Dalimier from Lille University of Science and Technology finished her urban planning internship at CMUS. Before leaving, Coline made a presentation about the situation of suburban areas near Paris. Renewing the panel housing areas in the suburbia of Paris is difficult because a lot of asbestos has been used and the renovations would be very expensive due to that. Also there is a problem of poverty and the areas are turning into ghettos.

Slides from the presentation are available here.


Posted in News | Leave a comment