Siberia’s Demand for Labour: Incentive Policies and Migration, 1960–85

  • John Sallnow


Over a period of fifty years the Soviet Union has developed a series of wage and material incentive policies to attract and retain labour migrants in the harsh environments of Siberia, the Far East and the European North of Soviet territory. In these extreme environments winter can last up to ten months, with temperatures frequently reaching very low levels. When the thermometer falls to −40°C it becomes necessary for workers employed in the open air to have ‘warm up’ breaks indoors every half-hour; when it reaches −50°C external work normally ceases. Soviet regional development policies towards Siberia and the Far East have undergone modifications over the last twenty-five years. The furtherance of an ‘Eastern Regions’ policy, originally developed in the 1930s under Josef Stalin, has been the subject of considerable debate and argument and has been brought into question. This chapter examines the geographical distribution of higher wage payments over the period from 1960 to 1985; it charts details of the crisis in labour supply to the Eastern Regions, notably West Siberia between 1960 and 1975, and shows that the Soviet authorities now recognise the importance of providing a good infrastructure with adequate housing in order to retain migrants to Siberia and the Far East.


Labour Supply Novosibirsk Oblast Adequate Housing Housing Space High Wage Rate 
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© School of Slavonic and East European Studies. University of London 1989

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  • John Sallnow

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