In Tallinn Estonian-speakers and Russian-speakers, a same wealthier and poorer people choose to live in separate districts

It is generally held that in Tallinn, like in many other eastern European cities, people with different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds inhabit the same residential areas.

However, a newly published study involving Estonian human geographers revealed that Tallinn is becoming increasingly segregated, reported ERR

Geographers from the University of Tartu and partner universities studied whether the increasing socio-economic inequality has led to a similar trend in the reformed post-socialist countries of eastern Europe.

Professor Tiit Tammaru said that Tallinn is in some ways an unconventional city. The Soviet Union bequeath to it the so-called “bedroom communities” – Lasnamäe, Mustamäe and Õismäe, which still house about a third of its population. This should have created a fertile soil for socia-economic residential segregation in 1990s that were characterized by rapidly growing income inequality.

However, the study revealed that growth of socioeconomic inequality resulted in the decrease in spacial segregation instead. According to Tammaru, this means that the areas that were less prestigious during the Soviet times – Kalamaja and Kopli, for example – are now attracting wealthier inhabitants. Hence, northern Tallinn is home to wealthier and poorer people, Estonian and Russian-speakers alike.

In Tallinn, the lines of ethnic and socioeconomic segregation are increasingly overlapping, meaning that Estonian-speakers and Russian-speakers choose to live in separate districts. Some areas draw in wealthier, other poorer people.

Tammaru said that problems emerge when minorities and poverty meet.

The only area in Tallinn where such a risk exists is Lasnamäe. “Lasnamäe is not a great problem but we do see a same tendency that western Europe has already experienced,” Tammaru said.

The geographers stress that the said negative results are not inevitable, but they are possible.