Academic journal article European Research Studies

The Concept of Convergent Development of Rural Areas of the Russian Federation

Academic journal article European Research Studies

The Concept of Convergent Development of Rural Areas of the Russian Federation

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

The relevance of the problem of rural areas development is due to the fact that about two-thirds of the total area of Russia is occupied by rural areas, which are home to almost half of the country's population. Rural areas possess a powerful natural, socio-demographic, economic potential and play an important role in ensuring the food supply security of the country. However, the consistent trend of sinking of the Russian village settlement into the systemic crisis, which manifests itself in poverty and high unemployment of the rural population, low competitiveness and high costs of agricultural production, a decline in the quality of the rural life environment, loss of previously developed agricultural land, reduced soil fertility and genetic potential of agricultural crops there has been observed in recent years. In addition, both the number of rural settlements and the rural population have been declining in the country in recent decades, which threatens the development of the rural areas themselves. The vast majority of rural areas in Russia are depressed, and the population's position on them is the most disastrous. At the same time, the gap between the living standards of urban and rural populations is constantly increasing. Salary in agriculture has been on an average stably two times lower than the average salary in the economy of the country in recent years.

The share of households with per capita incomes below the minimum of subsistence in rural areas was more than 40 percent of the total number of poor families in 2013. Up to 3,000 village settlements and villages disappear from the country's map every year. Settlements with population of up to 10 people constitute almost a quarter of the total number of rural settlements [1]. But the rural population is the most homogeneous, conservative and tolerant part of society. Rural youth provides 80% of conscripts to the Russian Army. Moreover, security and territorial unity of the state in geopolitical context strongly depend on the level of rural areas development, their economic development, and density of the population living on them.

Problems of the village settlement are particularly acutely manifested against the backdrop of the current crisis. The current social and economic crisis in Russia is special. It began not with the economic contraction, but with recession. Then the country sunk into stagnation, from which it did not escape until now. The new crisis is slow one; the country has failed to find new growth drivers yet. Meanwhile, an extremely high level of regional differentiation in terms of key socio-economic indicators was replaced by an even more significant level of intraregional inequality. Moreover, the number of problematic rural areas have conspicuous growing trend, what is accounted by influence of the range of both objective and subjective factors.

Therefore, there is an urgent need to create conditions for the growth of the rural economy and for raising the standard of living of the rural population on this basis, increasing employment, and stimulating the development of agro industrial production. The necessity to solve these problems determines the urgency of research into the problems of rural areas development, reduction of intra- regional inequality level, and development of mechanisms for overcoming social and economic inertia in the village settlements. The purpose of the research is to formulate the concept of convergent development of territories, which includes mechanism for overcoming social and economic inertia in rural areas and generating institutional and structural changes aimed at creating favorable conditions for the withdrawal of the village settlement from a protracted crisis.

We summarize the most significant achievements of the scientific literature on the development of rural settlements, stimulation of economic growth in peripheral and depressed territories, in the section following the introduction. …

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