On the evolution of hierarchical urban systems in soviet Russia, 1897–1989

Kazuhiro Kumo*, Elena Shadrina


研究成果: Article査読

1 被引用数 (Scopus)


One piece of evidence of the inefficiency of the spatial economy of modern Russia presented in the seminal work of Hill and Gaddy (2004) is that Russian urban agglomerations are non-viable. This was demonstrated using Zipf’s rank-size distribution, which does not hold for Russian urban systems. Hill and Gaddy explained this through the legacy of the Soviet command-administrative planning. Having constructed an original dataset, which incorporated comprehensive historical data for all the cities in the former Soviet Union republics and tested the rank-size distributions for the respective years, the study yielded more nuanced findings. First, unlike the modern Russian hierarchical urban systems, the Soviet ones followed rank-size distribution fairly well. Second, the Soviet urban systems were evolving. In the late Imperial era and early Soviet period, they followed the Zipf’s law prediction. However, between 1939 and 1959, the rank-size distribution diverged from the predicted one. Yet again, the Soviet hierarchical urban systems revealed a trend of convergence toward the traditional rank-size distribution in the late Soviet era. A corollary to such evidence from data trajectory appears that the evolution of the Soviet hierarchical urban systems was not necessarily the ultimate product of the urban development policies of the command-administrative system. It can be thus presumed that, contrary to the established belief, command administrative urban development might be ineffectual even in centrally planned socialist economies.

ジャーナルSustainability (Switzerland)
出版ステータスPublished - 2021 10月 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • 地理、計画および開発
  • 再生可能エネルギー、持続可能性、環境
  • 環境科学(その他)
  • エネルギー工学および電力技術
  • 管理、モニタリング、政策と法律


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