Friday, March 25, 2011

Urban shrinkage in Donetsk and Makiïvka, the Donetsk conurbation, Ukraine

by Vlad Mykhnenko, Dmytro Myedvyedyev and Larysa Kuzmenko

The Donetsk conurbation lies at the core of the Ukrainian Donbas – the country’s well-known industrial heartland – and is the third largest continuously built-up area in Ukraine, after Kyiv and Kharkiv. The Donetsk conurbation began to shrink in 1993, from the population peak of 1,611,072 inhabitants to 1,393,620 in 2009, thus, experiencing in 16 years a net loss of 217,452 residents, or 13.5% of its population base. By 2018, the conurbation is projected to decline even further to 1,292,200 residents; hence shrinking by 20% in twenty five years. The city of Donetsk – the conurbation’s bigger and much better off municipality – declined by 146,802 residents (or 13.1%) between its population peak of 1,121,400 in 1992 to 974,598 in 2009. The city of Makiivka – Donetsk’s poorer and more troubled neighbour – lost 20.1% of its population (or 91,323 net residents), having started to shrink half a decade earlier than Donetsk, from 455,000 inhabitants in 1987 to 363,677 in 2009.
The primary reason for urban shrinkage in both Donetsk and Makiivka has been a dramatic decline in birth rates due to historically unprecedented fertility levels in the conurbation. The urban fertility rate in the region has declined under post-communism to one of the lowest levels in the world (0.9 live births per 1,000 women in 2002), thus, falling far below the natural replacement level. This phenomenon, combined with a profound public health crisis which accompanied Ukraine’s social and economic transformation in the 1990s and 2000s, as well as the overall ageing of the local population, will further accelerate the rate of urban shrinkage in the Donetsk conurbation throughout the 2010s. This report suggests that the severe and prolonged economic depression suffered by Donetsk and, to a much greater extent, Makiivka, following the collapse of the USSR, along with the physical, emotional, and mental stress generated by Ukraine’s post-communist developments, has left a very deep scar on the two Donbas cities.
The overall process of shrinkage in the conurbation has gone hand in hand with an increasingly uneven urban development, caused by a profound divergence of performance trajectories of the Donetsk and Makiivka urban economies in general, and of individual inner-city areas and local firms in particular. Whereas the Donetsk economy had recovered from the output slump of the 1990s and continued rapidly to expand well until the recent recession of 2008-09, Makiivka lagged far and further behind. This report provides an extensive list of impacts on and consequences of urban shrinkage for Donetsk and Makiivka. Most of the time, the effects of urban shrinkage on patterns of segregation and social cohesion in the Donetsk conurbation, business growth and employment opportunities in various parts of Donetsk and Makiivka, the urban social infrastructure and education, housing developments, the state of the technical infrastructure in both cities, land use characteristics, environmental quality, as well as the financial and fiscal ability of the local authorities to cope with the tremendous challenges of shrinkage, have been intensely intertwined with the overall impact on the Donbas of Ukraine’s economic, social, political, and cultural transformations following the fall of state socialism in 1991.

A streetscape in Dontezk, Ukraine, photo by Chriszwolle

more about urban shrinkage:


Urban Sprawl beyond Growth: from a Growth to a Decline Perspective on the Cost of Sprawl

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