EY: Business case study on how to prompt Russians to move to the Far East


According to data from the Institute for Economic Research, from 1991 to 2012, Russia’s Far East region experienced the largest population outflow of any Russian region: 1.8 million people. Today just over 6 million people live there. This lack of human resources hinders the region’s economic development, which is why the Russian government is implementing a programme to support Russians relocating to the Far East. Specialists are offered tax breaks, the cost of moving house is covered and they are also given a relocation allowance. These steps are designed to make the region seem appealing to people, but are Russians willing to make the long journey?

EY set out to discover how many Russians are ready to move to the country’s Far East, and on what terms

For EY’s presentation at the III Eastern Economic Forum, ResearchMe analysts carried out a survey of over 8,000 Russian citizens of working age who live in different parts of Russia, to identify potential incentives for labour migration to the Far Eastern Federal District.

The survey showed that 82% of Russians would consider moving to a different part of the country. Over 70% of those surveyed indicated that they might respond to offers of highly paid work along way from their main place of residence, and another 11% said they would be willing to move if they receive socio-economic support from the authorities. Residents of the Central and North-Western Federal Districts were least open to the prospect of labour migration, while those living in Siberia or in the Urals were more enthusiastic about job offers from employers in other cities. The proportion of men interested in potential labour migration opportunities was 10% higher.

The under-25s who did not yet have children were the age group most likely to consider relocating, while Russians over 40 were most opposed to moving or paid closest attention to the social infrastructure in the chosen region. Most women asked about accessibility of healthcare for adults and education for children, while men asked about sports and active recreation facilities.

Russians polled named changing jobs the most likely reason for moving to a new region. Over 44% of those surveyed said that they were – either in part of fully – dissatisfied with their current position, and that this could prompt them to look for work in other Russian regions. 93% of specialists, irrespective of how they currently view their job, said they were ready to move for significantly higher salaries. The male respondents noted that career growth prospects and personal development opportunities are decisive factors in their decisions whether or not to move. Meanwhile, female respondents said that legal employment and stable timetables are key.

Of those surveyed, 44% were willing to consider moving to the Far East, another 31% expressed some doubt as to whether they would be able to adapt to the environment. One in four people outright refused to consider moving.

The main incentives for labour migration to the Far East are higher salaries and the opportunity to work in your specialist field. 47% of Russians say that they are working in a different field from the subjects they studied at university. 19% note that their career only partially corresponds to their qualifications. Those not working in their specialist field are more likely to receive a lower salary than they would like. The opportunity to find well-paid work that corresponds to their educational background could be a very persuasive reason for moving to the Far East. Men say the most ‘in-demand’ fields are: IT, industrial production, sport, construction, and science. Women say they are: culture and art, education, media and the services sector.

Potential migrants also prioritise living conditions in the region. 22% of those specialists surveyed who are ready to move say that personal positive experience of being in the Far East as a tourist or on a work trip might make them more inclined to make that decision. 30% would be ready to move for the social infrastructure, and 27% to improve their living standards.

Although 25% of Russians said they are completely unwilling to move to the Far East, this view was usually rooted in personal circumstances, rather than the region not being seen as economically appealing. 64% of those specialists who turned down labour migration said the main reason for not being interested in moving was that the Far East Federal District is a long way from their home region. They also said they doubt their ability to build social ties quickly and fear of falling out of contact with their friends and parents.

How they spend their free-time matters: 19% of specialists said that the main reason they are not interested in pursuing this option is the “provincial lifestyle” in the region.


The company ResearchMe identified the different groups of people who might potentially be interested in moving to the Far East

In addition to this representative survey, internet behaviours of different groups of he population were analysed to identify whether or not they would be willing to move. A de-personalised pool of people who had lived in one Russian region a long time, before moving to a constituent entity in the Far East Federal District, was used as the basis for this behavioural modelling. This de-personalised data was found thanks to the GPS-locations stored in the VK social network tied to open-source material.

De-personalised data was then used to analyse this group of people (around 10,000 people) for internet activity before the Big5 psychological modelling took place, along with comparisons with general societal models.

The Big5 model determines identity based on five features: extraversion, beneficence, conscientiousness, neurosis, openness to new experiences. Earlier, Mail.ru Group’s Big Data department and Research@Mail.ru surveyed several hundred thousand social media users to get their study samples. Machine learning was applied in using these results to model psychotypes that were then used in segmenting those groups potentially interested in moving to the Far East.

This research into labour migration uncovered something interesting: economic migrants are significantly more extraverted and open to new experience than the rest of the population. They are more curious, they dream more, they are more active and sociable, and they enjoy travelling. About a year before making the move this group of people carried out significantly more searches on Far East themes. They are adventure-seekers that want to draw attention to themselves on the internet.

The following segments, or groups, were identified.

How this research helps boost migration to the Far East

ReseаrchMe data indicates that just 19% of working age Russian residents are aware of the state programme to support specialists interested in moving to the Far East. Of those who heard about it thanks to the survey, 83% appreciated the incentives offered. But less than half (40%) of potential economic migrants said that they believe they would receive the state social and economic support offered if they did actually move.

The Far East regional authorities must prioritise informing potential migrants about this state support. The main emphasis should be on the region’s advantages, the opportunities to find highly paid work in their specialist field, and the developed social infrastructure in the cities. The audience should hear success stories from those who have made the move. The more of these there are, and the more open they are to answering questions from people considering moving, the more the audience will trust them.

Thanks to the way personal models work, it is possible to predict certain groups’ behaviour. This kind of analysis would enable us to predict the mood and evaluate the potential interest in moving among certain groups, and also to develop promotional texts tailored specifically to them, aiming to attract those segments of the audience that are most open to the migration programme.