Keiu Telve defended her PhD about Cross-Border Commuters

On 26 August at 15 Keiu Telve defended her doctoral thesis „Family Life Across the Gulf: Cross-Border Commuters’ Transnational Families between Estonia and Finland“.

Keiu Telve

Senior Research Fellow Aimar Ventsel, University of Tartu
Professor Tiit Tammaru, University of Tartu

PhD Mari Korpela, University of Tampere
PhD Maarja Kaaristo, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Tartu

The dissertation, based on five independent articles, explores cross-border long interval commuting between Estonia and Finland. More specifically, how working in another country has impacted unskilled and skilled labour migrants’ family-life and relations with their nuclear families back in Estonia. Many aspects of labour migration are actually connected with family issues, gender expectations, and everyday transnational practices that at the same time allow and force them to span family life across the two countries. Six-year-long ethnographic research shows the changes in family structures that may appear due to the impact of the new culture and social norms, a new work and leisure balance, and the growing need for emotional close relations due to the physical distance. Cross-border commuting is not easy — it is emotionally difficult, physically demanding, time-consuming, and as well as requires constant adaptability. Also, the public opinion and rumours make the family life across borders especially difficult. At the same time, it is visible that cross-border commuting is a calculated life-choice that can be seen as a rather permanent decision that is followed by different economic and social changes that starts from changes in work-rhythm. The research shows the transmission of family-centred values from Finland to Estonia and witnesses how fatherhood, masculine care-taking patterns, and ways to talk about family life change. Transnational fathers are present in family life not only through remittances; they attempt to be involved using communication technologies and visiting and they think a lot about how they can and will maintain a good connection with their families back in Estonia. Even when mainly the men commute, their families are very much involved. Mobile family life needs full commitment and collaboration between family members and the whole family can be characterised as transnational.  

Full thesis available here:

Posted in News | Leave a comment

PhD position „Interdependencies Between Family Context, Residential Segregation and School Segregation” (1.0 FTE)

The Chair of Human Geography of the Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Tartu is inviting applications from qualified and highly motivated students for a 4- year fully funded PhD position on the topic “Interdependencies Between Family Context, Residential Segregation and School Segregation”.

The PhD position starts in September 2019. The Chair of Human Geography offers a young, enthusiastic and open-minded work collective, an excellent work environment, family- friendly work arrangements, and opportunities for continuous further training. The main supervisors of the PhD project will be Prof. Tiit Tammaru and Dr. Anneli Kährik. Additional supervisors are possible depending on the exact research interests of the selected applicant.


The University of Tartu (UT) is Estonia’s leading centre of research and training. The University of Tartu belongs to the top 1.2% of world’s best universities. UT accounts for more than a half of all the doctoral degrees conferred, research publications, and national R&D financing in Estonia.

The Chair of Human Geography in the Department of Geography (, headed by Prof. academician Tiit Tammaru, has a long-term experience in applying quantitative research methodology, and working with register data and mobile phone data. Research takes primarily place in the two research centres, Centre for Migration and Urban Studies (CMUS) ( and Mobility Lab (ML) (

These centres focus on high quality teaching and research in the fields of social and economic geography, population geography, and spatial planning. The current PhD position is related to the Estonian Research Council financed project “Understanding the Vicious Circles of Segregation. A Geographic Perspective” (PRG306, 1.01.2019−31.12.2023, annual budget of 185,000, PI Tiit Tammaru).

For information about our team and the project, please use the following website link:

Job description

Income inequalities have grown in Europe and North America for the last four decades, followed by the rise of residential segregation. Segregation generally has a strong connotation with a residential location. But residential segregation is often linked to other life domains, such as schools and workplaces—residential neighbourhoods and their location can shape the choice of school, whereas both residential and school context play a role in individual’s social and labour market outcomes.

The PhD project will lead to a better understanding of the dynamics and complexities of segregation, focusing on the transmission of the disadvantages and advantages between different life domains—family, residential neighbourhood, school—both in the short-term perspective (activity space) and in the long-term perspective (over the life course). The exact focus will be decided later based on the research interests of the selected applicant.

This PhD position provides an excellent opportunity for a highly motivated PhD student to work in an international team of researchers on a cutting-edge social science topic and applying advanced quantitative methods to longitudinal data. Research is based on large-scale individual and longitudinal national databases, censuses (linked 1989, 2000 and 2011 censuses) and register data, surveys.

Additionally, there is a possibility to apply additional qualitative data sources, as well as innovative mobile phone data depending also on the interests of the PhD candidate. The availability of individual level longitudinal data since 1989 (or before the systemic change after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991) offers a unique quasi-experimental research for the whole population for understanding how segregation gets transmitted between different contexts.

The primary research region is Tallinn metropolitan area. The PhD thesis will consist of a minimum of 3 articles (including at least one first- authored) in international scientific journals, an introduction and a discussion, and will be written in English. Presentations at (inter)national conferences are part of the job as well. Teaching will take up 15% of time.


Applicants are expected to meet the following eligibility criteria:

1) A master’s degree in any area of social, educational, environmental sciences or economics (including statistics and applied mathematics) to be completed before 1 September 2019.
2) Interest in research on inequalities and segregation, as well as application of advanced quantitative methods in social sciences. Coding skills are an advantage (e.g. in R, Stata or SAS), but not required.
3) Good writing skills and fluency in English. The following skills will be an advantage—experience in academic writing, conceptual capacity and abstract reasoning with the desire and capacity to relate theoretical topics to practical challenges and solutions, communicative skills (presenting), planning and organizing, teamwork, enthusiasm. Previous experience or proven interest in the project related research fields would be an advantage.

Conditions of employment

The selected candidate will first be appointed for a period of 12 months. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years is to be expected. The University of Tartu offers a basic net salary of € 14,000 per year during the first year, based on a full-time position (1.0 FTE).

This is the provided minimum salary level (based on the salary structure of the Estonian universities) which can be negotiated and is subject for increase during the 4-year period. To put into perspective, the pay is the average net salary in the country, and allows for decent living (housing cost ranges from 350 to 500 EUR/month). In addition, other scholarship opportunities and research training support opportunities are possible. There are no tuition fees.

Procedure Candidates must submit an application electronically between May 1, 2019 up until Jun 1, 2019 23:59 Europe/Tallinn time.

More information about the submission of the documents Please note that a proof of English language proficiency at a satisfactory level has to be provided Shortlisted applicants will be asked for the interview. Skype interviews are possible.

However, it is highly recommended that you email your (1) curriculum vitae (including a list of publications if any), (2) letter of interest (no more than 1 page, in English) and (3) an initial project idea (max 1 page) latest by May 1 to the email addresses of Prof. Tiit Tammaru and Dr. Anneli Kährik

The contact details of two referees whom we might contact for a recommendation, and any writing samples or publications (in case of availability) would also be useful. This will allow us to provide comments and recommendations for potential candidates in order to guarantee a better success in the competition. In the motivation letter briefly state why you are interested in this PhD position, how we could foster your professional development and career trajectory, and in which ways your interests fit the research strengths of our team and project. In the research statement briefly describe your research accomplishments, as well as ongoing and future research plans, and how they relate to the annaouced PhD project. Please also describe your areas of expertise, technical skills as well as the type of advanced training that you would like to receive during your studies.

For inquiries about the PhD position, please contact Prof. Tiit Tammaru and/or Dr. Anneli Kährik

For practical questions and inquiries related to the application procedure please contact Ms Annika Väiko (

Please include ‘PhD vacancy’ in the subject line of your email.

Posted in News | Leave a comment

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:

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: or

NUP Estonia contact person: Kadri Leetmaa,

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

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:

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



Posted in News | Leave a comment