Differential and non-differential urbanization in Ukraine during the soviet and post-soviet era

Keywords: urbanization, Soviet and post-Soviet urban development, differential urbanization model, patterns of differential and non-differential urbanization, Ukraine


Formulation of the problem. To date, there are several concepts for the phased development of urban systems of various scales. But most of these urban development models are created in Western scientific schools of human geography. These models help to identify the stages of urban development in the socio-economic and political conditions of these countries. However, these models often cannot cleanly identify the stages of urban development in post-socialist and post-Soviet countries, and especially in their previous socialist or Soviet periods. Since the 1990s, Ukraine has been in a demographic crisis, which significantly distorts the perception of researchers about the processes of urbanization in its territory. Therefore, it is important to study the trends of urbanization in Ukraine through the prism of the concepts of stage-cyclical urban development. The comparison of the results with international trends and cases is also of high relevance. Based on these motives, this article tests the differential urbanization model as one of the key models of stage-evolutionary development of urban systems of higher hierarchical levels.

The purpose of the article: (1) to investigate the peculiarities of the development of urbanization processes in Ukraine during 1959-2019; (2) to rethink the conceptual basis of the differential urbanization model and methodological approaches to its testing in Ukraine; (3) to identify Soviet and post-Soviet patterns of urban development in Ukraine based on the results of identification of stages of the differential urbanization model; (4) to compare the results of testing the differential urbanization model in Ukraine with the cases from other countries.

Methodology. Based on the theory of the differential urbanization model and the experience of testing this model in other countries, certain methodological approaches were elaborated to test this concept at the national scale in Ukraine, namely (a) fixed sizes of urban centres, (b) two types of demographic indicators (rate of population growth and net migration rate) are used to identify the stages of differential urbanization, (c) calculations are based on official census data in Ukraine and inter-census estimates of migration and population.

Results. Empirical results indicate that urban development in Ukraine during 1959-2019, within the differential urbanization model, had several restarts, due to crisis processes of deconcentration of the population and crisis patterns of non-differential urbanization. The great or the first cycle of differential urbanization has been recorded since 1959, after the Second World War, as in 1959-1970 the initial stage of urbanization was identified. In 1970-1979, urban development entered the advanced stage of urbanization, which lasted until 1989. In 1989-1992, the initial stage of polarization reversal was observed in Ukraine. The crisis stage of non-differential urbanization started after 1992, when all categories of urban centres began to rapidly lose their population (for example, the same situation was observed in Estonia in the 1990s). Unfortunately, it was not possible to record migration trends in 1992-2002 due to the lack of a quality statistical base, and for this reason the end of the crisis stage cannot be clearly identified. Starting from 2002-2004, there was a restart of the advanced stage of urbanization, which prevailed until 2005-2007. During the World Economic Crisis (2008-2010), a crisis stage of counter-urbanization was recorded, which indicates a certain crisis deconcentration of the population of urban centres (for example, the same situation was recorded in the former West Germany and Russia during the socio-political and military crises of the first half XX century). A new restart of Ukrainian urbanization within the framework of the differential urbanization model took place in 2011-2013, when the advanced stage of large urban centres was identified. However, since 2014 in Ukraine the crisis pattern of non-differential urbanization has been fixed due to the aggravation of crisis processes in the socio-economical life of the country and the annexation of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the beginning of the Russian-Ukrainian war in Donbas.

Scientific novelty and practical significance. Based on the results of previous research, a hybrid methodological approach to testing the differential urbanization model at the national scale was created, which was tested in Ukraine. The results of testing the differential urbanization model using the hybrid methodological approach indicate the temporary extramodelity and diversity of urban development in Ukraine. In general, with stable economic and political systems, administrative-territorial integrity, and open access to demographic data, the differential urbanization model can be used for certain forecasting and further programming of urban development both at the national level and at the level of polycentric urban regions.


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Author Biography

Oleksii Havryliuk, Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

PhD student


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How to Cite
Havryliuk, O. (2021). Differential and non-differential urbanization in Ukraine during the soviet and post-soviet era. Visnyk of V. N. Karazin Kharkiv National University, Series "Geology. Geography. Ecology", (55), 141-158. https://doi.org/10.26565/2410-7360-2021-55-11