Subject Towns that form economic relief of the territory, their substantial development, adaptation and stimulation of positive socio-economic and ecological changes, determine the ecological and socio-economic situation of the region, what actualizes the regional urban system monitoring. Objectives Our study assesses the socio-economic development of towns of the Orel region (a quite typical region of Central Russia) from the viewpoint of transformation. Methods We have analyzed the development of different regional economy sectors which appear to be the sources of transformational processes. We considered the competitive advantages as well as the factors restraining the adaptation abilities of towns. While assessing the urban development degree we used two main approaches: the selection of quantitative and qualitative indicators monitoring and calculation of the single integral index by econometric methods. Results We juxtapose the results of the performed qualitative situational analysis of the regional urban settlements and the results of the mathematical analysis of the socio-economic processes occurring in the region. We have studied the main urban development indicators in towns of regional and district jurisdiction, towns' CDI index and its dynamics. We prove that both these approaches despite using the information of different character enable the researcher to reach the essentially concurrent conclusions, what enhances their reliability. Conclusions We found that the bigger towns of the region by their socio-economic development may be referred to poorly developing settlements while the smaller towns may be referred to stagnating ones with the retrogression symptoms. We have also determined the most important priorities of regional policies regarding the towns of various types and searched for the most optimal guidelines of their sustainable development.
Keywords: social and economic development, towns, region, urban development, indicators, urban CDI index, priorities, regional policy, sustainability
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