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Journal Article

Continuities and Discontinuities of Russian Urban Housing: The Soviet Housing Experiment in Historical Long-Term Perspective


Kohl,  Sebastian
Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Uppsala University, Sweden;
Soziologie des Marktes, MPI for the Study of Societies, Max Planck Society;

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Kalyukin, A., & Kohl, S. (2020). Continuities and Discontinuities of Russian Urban Housing: The Soviet Housing Experiment in Historical Long-Term Perspective. Urban Studies, 57(8), 1768-1785. doi:10.1177/0042098019852326.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-4BBC-5
Did the socialist experiment disrupt continuity in Russian urban housing? Based on a unique collection of urban data covering several hundred Russian cities and spanning three regimes across more than a century, this paper gives a nuanced account of continuities and discontinuities of housing in post-Soviet cities. Three main housing characteristics are analysed: urban density (persons per building and living space per capita), ownership structure and the modernisation of stock (building material and provision with amenities). Although all Russian cities underwent a number of major shocks and regime changes during the course of the 20th century, their rankings with regard to these three key housing characteristics are still significantly correlated over time, whereas living space per capita is largely uncorrelated over time. This holds true despite significant convergence processes in almost all dimensions and also when including contemporary control variables. We hypothesise that local or regional building traditions, regional differentiation in Soviet urban planning as well as Soviet land use specificities could explain differential growth across cities. Going beyond existing late-Soviet-legacy timeframes, the long-term perspective reveals that even major regime shocks did not completely erase regionally shaped patterns in housing conditions.