In 2013 the Moscow Institute for Social and Cultural Programmes (the MISCP) launched its research project “The Mechanics of Moscow” during the course of which seven key elements of urban life and their contributions to the quality of the social environment of the Moscow megalopolis were investigated:

  1. Infrastructure and amenities
  2. Safety
  3. Culture
  4. Education
  5. Public Health
  6. Ecology
  7. Transport

This research was conducted throughout all of the 146 Moscow districts in two separate phases: one in 2013 and the second in 2015. The statistical and sociological data that was gathered reflects the current state of these districts based on various parameters.

This website holds sociological data based on all seven of the key elements of urban life mentioned above. The combined analysis of this sociological and statistical data is also available in the documents “Parameters of Urban Environment Development” and “Types of Urban Environment”.

The city of Moscow is rapidly changing. However, very few attempts have been made to systematically analyze the nature of these changes and their effect on the everyday lives of Muscovites. The main obstacle to such an analysis is the poor quality of existing databases, which often give a patchy view of the situation, lacking in detail. Much of the currently available data is based solely on large administrative areas such as the South-West Area, which has a population of 1.3 million people – a population size which exceeds that of 99% of Russia’s cities. The data collected from such a large area is usually too unwieldy to provide an accurate reflection of the inner diversity and processes that make up the social mechanics of the city.

The essential question that our project “The Mechanics of Moscow” asks is: ‘What is the relationship between the urban environment and the life style of it’s inhabitants?’ This search for a paradigm that defines the life of a megalopolis, has led to an increased focus on studying the city district by district, rather than at the administrative area level, for the reasons mentioned above.

The methodology used in this research serves the purpose of the project as a whole - to provide sociological data that is representative of each individual district of the city separately. This means that the collected data is required to reflect the inhabitants’ perception of urban life and their evaluation of their daily issues and problems. The unit of analysis of the “The Mechanics of Moscow” therefore, is not a city as a whole, or an administrative area, but the smaller more detailed sample of individual districts.

The total sample volume for each phase of the research was 12 000 respondents

Questionnaire based surveys were carried out in each district with between 80-120 residents surveyed depending on the size and population level of the district. The respondents from each district were chosen through the use of a sequence of standard sociological methods to ensure a representative sample of the views and opinions of each district. The respondents were contacted by telephone, and the telephone numbers for each district were generated on a random basis as per the standard models for generating accurate sampling data from general complex of elements. Depending on the availability of certain respondent groups, age and gender quotas were introduced.

Developers and Authors
Kirill Puzanov PhD in geography from Moscow State University (“Intra-city self organization of a society”), MA in sociology from the University of Manchester. A lecturer at the geographical department at the Moscow State University, chief research fellow at the MISCP.
Pavel Stepantsov MA in sociology from the National Research University Higher School of Economics, MA in sociology from the University of Manchester, head lecturer at the philosophy and sociology department at The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, senior research fellow at the MISCP in 2012-2015.
Yulia Chursina MA in sociology from the National Research University Higher School of Economics, senior research officer at the MISCP.
Project Director
Alina Bogatkova Deputy Director at the MISCP.
Ivan Napreenko MA in Sociology from the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences / University of Manchester, editor of “Sociology of Power” magazine, head of the publishing center of the MISCP in 2013-2016.
Methodology Consultant
Victor Vahshtein PhD and professorship in sociology from The Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences, head of the sociological research center and dean of the philosophy and sociology department at The Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. In 2012-2013 he was the director of the MISCP.
Project Originator
Ruslan Hestanov PhD from Universite de Fribourg, professor at the sub-department of culture sciences, chair of the cultural projects sub-department of the Сulturology department at the National Research University Higher School of Economics, director of the MISCP in 2013-2014.
Current Director of the MISCP
Maria Privalova MA in economics.
Illarion Gordon, Alexey Krizuk

Moscow Districts Data

This is a set of 194 sociological variables, that were included in the research. They are categorized into seven elements: Infrastructure and Amenities, Safety, Culture, Education, Public Health, Ecology and Transport. Tables include average indicators for each district individually but also for every administrative area and for the city in general.
Infrastructure and amenities
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A set of sociological data that reflects residents’ evaluation of the infrastructure and amenities in their district. The utility costs, the state of communal areas — all these factors have a direct impact on the satisfaction of residents with the fabric of daily life in Moscow.

Analysis of this database can answer questions like:

  • Which districts’ residents are actively involved in the management of their building?
  • What aspects of the maintenance of communal areas are residents most concerned with?
  • In which districts do Muscovites usually take it upon themselves to solve the maintenance issues in their buildings and communal areas ?
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A set of sociological data that reflects how safe Muscovites consider their district to be. The desire to spend time in their home district is directly linked to the feeling of safety. Citizens prefer to spend more time in places where they feel safe, and as a result urban amenities (stores, cafes, cultural establishments etc) in these areas are used more frequently. Conversely, residents spend much less time in districts where residents feel discomfort because of potential threats to their security.

Analysis of this database can answer questions like:

  • Which districts are considered unsafe by citizens and during which time of the day specifically?
  • What measures do Muscovites take to protect their own homes and communal areas?
  • Which districts have a strong sense of community with friendly relationships between neighbors and which districts lack any sense of community?
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A set of sociological data that reflects how residents evaluate the cultural life of their district. Cultural offerings make the urban environment more comfortable and diverse, giving citizens a wide range of options for spending their leisure time. After average salary level and real estate prices, the opportunity for cultural enrichment is the third main reason for people to migrate to a given urban area.

Analysis of this database can answer questions like:

  • How do Muscovites like to spend their leisure time?
  • Which issues and difficulties in the culture and entertainment sphere do residents see in their districts?
  • How often do citizens visit cultural establishments?
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A set of sociological data that reflects how citizens see the quality of pre school, school and extra curricular education services in Moscow. Differences in quality of available education are an often cited reason for families with children to relocate.

Analysis of this database can answer questions like:

  • Which districts’ residents place the highest value on further education for themselves and extra curricular education for their children ?
  • Which districts have the least satisfactory education services?
  • What are the most common problems that Muscovites face in schooling their children?
Public Health
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A set of sociological data showing how Moscow citizens evaluate the quality of medical services in their district. For the majority of people, health and education are two highly important parts of life. Public health questions are therefore often hotly debated.

Analysis of this database can answer questions like:

  • Where in Moscow do citizens usually go to state-provided clinics and where do they prefer the fee-paying clinics?
  • In which districts do Muscovites distrust the public health system and prefer to rely on self-treatment instead ?
  • How do citizens evaluate the quality and availability of medical services in their district?
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A set of sociological data that reflects how Muscovites evaluate the current state of the natural environment in their district. Fresh air, quiet areas and non-polluted spaces — are all limited resources. Research shows that citizens use this criteria more than any other when choosing where to live in Moscow.

Analysis of this database can answer questions like:

  • Which districts’ residents are most concerned about the environment ?
  • Which sources of pollution do Muscovites consider to be the most harmful ?
  • Which measures to protect the environment are taken in each district?
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A set of sociological data that reflects how residents of various Moscow districts evaluate the state of the transport system. The issues of traffic jams, lack of parking, and disruptions in the public transport system all affect the rhythm of urban life, and the speed and comfort of moving around the city. The importance of public and private transport provision is a factor that all Muscovites have to take into account when choosing where to go for the weekend or which school to send their children to.

Analysis of this database can answer questions like:

  • How do residents of various districts rate evaluate the capacity load of roads and parking in their district ?
  • What are the levels of customer satisfaction with the organizing and running of the urban transport system ?
  • Which means of transportation do residents of each districts use to get to work ?

Results of initial data analysis

Parameters of urban environment development

Visual representation of data comparing districts in terms of the seven key elements

A city’s districts differ from one another in the levels of development of various aspects of urban life. Some of them are safer, others are better maintained and in others residents can benefit from various local cultural leisure amenities etc. To compare the city’s districts in these and other aspects we conducted a mathematical analysis of data and identified parameters of urban environment development that characterize Moscow – unified indexes that describe the distinctive features of each individual district. This document presents a description of the methodology used to gather and analyze data, as well as maps of Moscow districts illustrating the selected parameters.

Types of urban environment

Districts grouped by similarities in parameters of urban environment development

Moscow is one of the biggest cities in the world, and like all major cities is not homogeneous but consists of a patchwork of highly differentiated areas – ‘types’ of urban environment. Residents of these varied districts live different lives, with different infrastructures to take advantage of, different socio-cultural conditions etc. This document presents a description of a methodology developed to identify types of urban environment, and also maps and specifications of each of the nine types.