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Marriage agencies in Russia: the geographic distribution


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This presentation offers some findings of my research project in Social Anthropology, Aberdeen University, UK (MPhil, Social Anthropology).

Published in: Education, Travel, Business
  • FYI - who has been watching the two presentations (Marriage migration..., Marriage agencies) by me:

    81% views are from Russia, others are from:

    'Russian Federation','1076'
    'United States','94'
    'United Kingdom','16'
    'Czech Republic','1'
    'Korea, South','1'
    The majority found it on Slideshare (708 чел), the next largest category- directly, through copy/pasting the link in their browser (149), yet others - through social networks.

    Another interesting thing is that the majority of viewers are from St.-Petersburg, Russia (where the author currently has been residing). It was expected that there would be more clicks from all over the world at this English language resource.

    Moreover, there are really few views by residents of other Russian cities and towns. Among them: Moscow, Eisk, Dmitrov, Ekaterinburg, Krasnoyarsk, Essentuki. There are also a lot of clicks from unknown destinations.. All in all, no more than 10 views from the Russian cities other than St.-Pete.

    It is also curious that there are a lot of university viewers from many countries of the world.
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Marriage agencies in Russia: the geographic distribution

  1. 1. MARRIAGE AGENCIES IN THETERRITORY OF THE RUSSIANFEDERATIONThe results of the topical Internet search conducted in2003, 2010 and 2012.By Ekaterina Bartik, MPhil candidateUniversity of Aberdeen, ScotlandE-mail:
  2. 2. Some facts and figures(2012) Over 600 bureaux listed online functioning across Russia (thesource of the data: Yandex maps app. and Yandex search; usingkeywords: ‘’marriage agency + the town name’’); About 150 MAs** located in the largest, large and medium-sizedcities and towns (with some exceptions) broker internationally; St.-Petersburg, Moscow, Ekaterinburg (and Omsk) have the largestnumbers of the international marriage agencies: 18, 16 and 7 (bothin EKB and Omsk).**Most likely, the numbers of the bureaux are much higher, since notall of them post the information about the internationalmatchmaking on their sites. Besides, some of the bureaux do nothave websites at all (mostly, those brokering on the domesticscene).
  3. 3. **Source: Shlyapentokh, 1984: 167.City Domestic matchmaking International matchmaking1983 2003 2010 2012 2003 2010 2012St.-Petersburg No data 40 25 37 10 12 18Moscow 17** No data 26 78 No data 4 16Ekaterinburg No data 20 16 19 12 1 7Three Russian cities with the largest numbers of theinternational marriage agencies in 2012
  4. 4. The methodology of online monitoring While conducting the monitoring of the websites of marriageagencies across Russia I located the bureaux via search engineYandex and surfed their websites in order to find the informationabout the destinations in which the agencies broker. A large amount of regional IMAs do not advertise themselves onYandex maps app, but can be found through simple Yandex searchreturning search results from the local web-boards andpublications in the regional press. In some cases I made follow up phone calls and asked themanagers of the agencies, what countries a particular agency hadlinks with. In spite of the obvious limitations, using this methodallowed to understand general trends of matchmaking industryacross Russia, in which there is a certain uniformity of the countriesof destination, which are more or less the same in all the regions.
  5. 5. The results of online monitoring of the marriageagencies’ websites: geography The US along with the major West-European countries are the majorcountries of destination for the Russian marriage migrants; 31 marriageagencies in Russia list the US as the country of destination on theirwebsites. The most frequently mentioned European countries are: France(28), Germany (25), Italy (18) - these are top three countries. The newly emergent destinations are: the countries of Eastern Europeand Israel. Geographic distance does not play a very significant role in running of amatchmaking business on the international scale, especially in the case ofthe largest cities of Russia, which are normally connected with all themajor destinations of marriage migration.
  6. 6. The results of online monitoring of the marriageagencies: the largest cities and towns IMAs in the largest Russia’s cities tend to serve the femalecustomers residing in both the neighbouring towns and across alarger geographic region, i.e. – outside of the economicagglomeration. That is, a SPB bureau provided the agencies inPetrozavodsk, Murmansk and Riga with their networking services inthe international segment. In rare cases, the IMAs that I visited had female clients in ruralareas. At the domestic scene, men residing in SPB and EKB do notshow much interest in finding women from outside the cities(sources – interviews with the marriage counsellors, analysis ofdocuments); Marriage migration into Russia is not part of the common touristsflows: there are foreign male clients, who travel to inner Russia insearch of the partners/wives. These men engage in migration forthe reasons that are different from mere tourism.
  7. 7. The results of online monitoring of the marriage agencies:provincial towns in the inner Russia and in border regions. Provincial towns located on the countrys borders will morelikely have international marriage agencies than provincialtowns in central Russia (for instance, Khabarovsk (4), Murmansk(3), Kaliningrad (2), Vladivostok (2), Petrozavodsk (1). The destinations offered by the IMAs (the majority of them inthe largest cities of Russia) are more or less uniform,irrespective of the location of the agency, that is, France is apopular destination both in Nefteyugansk, St.-Petersburg, Ufaand Chelyabinsk); The agencies in border regions sometimes establish links withthe neighbouring countries, exclusively. Thus, Khabarovsk andVladivostok have strong links with Japan and South Korea. Onlyin rare cases the Westerners connect with the marriageagencies in this region (source – a telephone conversation witha manager of an IMA in Khabarovsk).
  8. 8. The results of online monitoring of the marriageagencies: cities and towns profiles If we look at the top cities involved in the international marriagemigration which are not among the *largest cities of the country*(usually with a huge surplus of women, Leizerovich, 2008), they are thecities that: a) are on the countrys northern, western, and north-western borders: Khabarovsk(4), Murmansk (3), Kaliningrad (2), Vladivostok (2), Petrozavodsk (1); b) are the towns located on the southern borders of Russia, on the Black Sea.Among them: Sochi (4), Krasnodar (3), Stavropol (3), Pyatigorsk (1). All the top cities involved in the international marriage migration (asidefrom the southern regions of Russia) in each Rosstat category (over1.000,000; 500,000-1.000,000 and so on) are connected to the military-industrial complex or are industrial towns.
  9. 9. The results of online monitoring of the marriageagencies: links with the military-industrial complex Among such cities are: Tomsk (5) has a huge share of military-industrial complex enterprisesin the oblast‘s IRP. Source - (accessedJanuary, 2012) Saratov (4) (over 50,3% of the population were employed by themilitary-industrial complex in 2000s, source – Yuriev, Osaulenko, 2003:8); Izhevsk (3) (in Udmurtiia, of which Izhevsk is the capital, 55.3% of thepopulation were employed in MIC in 2000s, source – Ibid), Novosibirsk (2) (43.5% of the population of Novosibirskaya oblastwere employed by MIC in 2000s, source – Ibid.) also Penza (3) andBarnaul (2) (for more on this see Ouchakine, 2009); Novokuznetsk (2) (mining, metallurgy), Pskov (2) (Pskovskaya oblast isone of the poorest regions of Russia), Yoshkar-Ola (2) (industrialregion, for more on this see: Luehrmann, 2004).
  10. 10.  In 1970s the Soviet economists problematised the gender-biased patterns of employment and, thus, settlement inthe Russian Federation and justified the surplus of women,which was recognised at the time, by the necessities of thereproduction of labour-force: since women had to leavelabour force at some point, the replacement was readilyavailable, and so the production did not suffer (Kotlyar,1978); Up to date, in Russia, employment has been stronglyimplicated by geography, that is, while the largest and largeRussian cities attract a lot of female workers offering‘’female’’ workplaces, the traditional ‘’male’’ industries arelocated in the gigantic eastern territories (mining,metallurgy, military, etc. Leizerovich, 2008).The results of online monitoring of the marriage agencies:pattern 1 – geographic bias in the system of settlement
  11. 11. The results of online monitoring of the marriage agencies:pattern 1 – geographic bias in the system of settlement andthe occupational gender gap (the case of Sverdlovskayaoblast’). According to the 2002 Census of Sverdlovskaya oblast’, almost half of all the male population wereemployed in the industrial sector (40.8%), 10,4% - in transportation industry, and 9,9% - in theconstruction industry, and only 8.3% of the men are involved in wholesale and retail trade; 6.3 – incommunal services, the same percentage – in managerial jobs (vs. 4.8% in the women) (ZhenshchinySverdlovskoi oblasti: Itogi Vserossiiskoi perepisi naseleniia 2002, 2008: 10). The largest share of the women of Sverdlovskaya oblast’ of the working age were still employed by theprocessing industries – 27.1 %; the second most numerous group – those employed in wholesale andretail trade and mending services –16,2%; the third group – women working in the sphere of education –13,7%, the fourth – healthcare and social welfare – 11.2%, Communal services – 5.4%. Overall genderimbalance in the oblast is 18%, in Ekaterinburg – 10% (2008). According to the 1979 Census of Sverdlovskaya oblast’ the numbers of women involved in non-manuallabour has grown in the period from 1970 to 1978 at 74,000; in manual labour – at 36,000; similar datafor the men involved in non-manual labour was as follows: the growth in non-manual labour was at22,800; manual – at 121,000. Conclusion: In Sverdlovskaya obast’, heavy industries are the major employers for men since 1970s (andthis finding is true for the regions outside of the central Russia, Leizerovich, 2008). Such a division hasimportant implications for the marriage market, in which there is an occupational gap between menemployed in lower qualified jobs in the industry and women employed in the newly emerging sectors ofthe economy, even though in rank-and-file jobs, that are office-based.
  12. 12. The results of online monitoring of the marriage agencies:pattern 2: the dissolution of the military-industrial complex After MIC collapsed in the Soviet Union, it has changed the landscape ofthe world distribution of labour, since the Soviet Union played animportant role in the hi-tech competition with the countries of the‘’capitalist camp’’, esp. the US, which, subsequently, fuelled thedevelopment of the microelectronics industry across the world, and,contributed to the reign of the ‘’information society’’ (Lyon, 1988). MIC was one of the USSR’s major employers: about a quarter of all thepopulation of the USSR of the working ages, were employed by the MIC inthe end of 1980s (including family members – every tenth citizen ofRussia) (Yuriev, Osaulenko, 2003); The economic transformation of the 1990s in Russia did not lead to thestrengthening of the industrial potential of the country: there was adegradation of the industrial system, strengthening of the raw materials’export orientation. The reasons for this are the availability of the rawresources and cheap labour force (Romanova, Chenenova et al, 2003).
  13. 13. Conclusions To summarise: the distribution of marriage agencies in the territory ofRussia reflects: the patterns of the system of settlement, which remain intact up to date, longafter the collapse of the Soviet Union and characterased by the sex ratioimbalance: the majority of the largest and large Russian cities have a surplus ofwomen, which is much higher than in the rural areas (Leizerovich, 2008); Geographic location strongy contributes to the patterns of marriage migration:border regions have links with the neighbouring countries; there emerge newtypes of relationships with the new types of boundary objects and subjectsinvolved (Star, 2004); Occupational imbalances might be another pushing factor of marriagemigration from Russia. The Soviet occupational segregation remains in powerbecause of the structure of the labour market in contemporary Russia and theglobal division of labour. Ekaterina Bartik © All rights reserved.