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“Strategies to Cope with Shrinkage in the Lower End of the Urban Hierarchy in Estonia and Central Germany”
Kadri Leetmaa, Agnes Kriszan, Mari Nuga & Joachim Burdack (2015).

European Planning Studies, 23(1), Special Issue: Responding to Tough Times: Policy and Planning Strategies in Shrinking Cities

Abstract: Population shrinkage has become an unavoidable process in many cities and calls for new planning approaches. Typically, economic restructuring causes small urban centres in peripheral locations to lose economic functions and population. In small towns however, social capital has been considered as a specific resource. In this article, we focus on small postsocialist towns in Estonia and Central Germany that have mostly experienced severe shrinkage since the end of state socialism, especially during the first transition decade. We aim to clarify to what extent local planning strategies accept the ongoing shrinkage and how various forms of local social capital have contributed to these strategies and the development of the localities in general. Interviews with different stakeholders in selected towns in Estonia and Germany revealed that shrinkage has not been systematically accepted in local planning. Instead, planning is strongly steered by the external financial resources to strengthen the remaining urbanity. In all towns, specific key development niches have been found in the 2000s to compensate for the peripherality. We also demonstrate that local public institutions need to adjust their governance culture to the existing specific local forms of social capital in order to achieve synergy between local actors.

“Preferences Toward Neighbor Ethnicity and Affluence: Evidence from an Inherited Dual Ethnic Context in Post-Soviet Tartu, Estonia”
Kadri Leetmaa, Tiit Tammaru & Daniel Baldwin Hess (2014)

Annals of the Association of American Geographers.

Abstract: In the post-Soviet era, cities in Central and Eastern Europe inherited a rather undifferentiated sociospatial urban landscape that contrasts with the highly segregated cities in Western Europe and North America. In the Soviet era, ethnic segregation emerged as migrants were prioritized in public housing allocation. The dissolution of the Soviet Union, however, changed the economic and political position of those in-migrants. This study explores how inherited segregation patterns have evolved in the city of Tartu, Estonia. We use data from (1) 1998, 2008, and 2013 municipal surveys about stated preferences with regard to residential settings for the two main ethno-linguistic groups in Estonia (the Estonian majority and the mainly Russian-speaking minority population), and (2) the 2000 and 2011 national census that allows us to track changes in actual segregation patterns. We study two dimensions of preferences and segregation—ethnicity and neighbor affluence—and apply bivariate probit regression for the analysis of stated preferences. We detect a stronger preference among the majority population to live in its own language environment compared to minorities. Minority avoidance attitudes were strongest immediately after the collapse of the Soviet Union and restoration of Estonia’s statehood; by the end of the 2000s the preferences of the two groups toward neighbor ethnicity converged. Members of the majority population, however, prefer affluent environments more than minorities do. Despite converging preferences, the actual levels of segregation have increased in Tartu. This suggests that socioeconomic differences drive patterns of ethnic segregation even when preferences with regard to ethnicity have become more tolerant.


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