Why Ukraine should conduct a population census

Author : Yuriy Hryhorenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

The issue of carrying out the population census has been postponed for about 8 years. The officials call different reasons for it – from lack of funds to the lack of political will
12:10, 31 July 2018

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The last census of Ukraine has been conducted in 2001. It was the first and so far the only census of the population since Ukraine gained independence. The whole world conducts the population census every 10 years. The population census in Ukraine should have been conducted in 2011, but it was postponed for several times. This year, a special working group was created, but in 2018 nothing will happen. The next census, or rather, its attempt (taking into account previous transfers), is planned for 2020.

It should be noted that in December this year a pilot population census will be conducted, in particular in the Obolonsky district of Kyiv and the Borodyansky district of the Kyiv region. It is promised to use innovative technologies for collecting information from the public. What is meant by "innovative technologies" is not clear, because Ukraine does not have the electronic data collection system. Maybe, the "innovation" means the use of tablets for collecting the respondents' data, however, this sounds too pathetic.

Related: Ukraine's population decreases due to labour migration, - survey

The census is the only tool that allows us to get a complete socio-demographic portrait of Ukrainians. In the course of the census, respondents provide information on demographic characteristics (gender, age, place of birth, marital status, citizenship), socio-economic indicators (level of education, occupation, employment, income, social status), ethnic criteria (ethnicity, language, language proficiency, religion). However, there might be other issues, determined by the tasks of the specific census.

"The population census is carried out in many countries of the world, it is an element for clarifying statistical data on the population, collecting extended information on the state of the economy of the country," stresses Olexander Okhrymenko, president of the Ukrainian Analytical Center.

The population census provides real information about the size, gender, and age structure of the population, allowing to form a "portrait of the society." "This is a kind of reconciliation of what we have in reality, of what is calculated by the statistical agencies and sociological surveys.

Related: By 2050, Ukraine's population to shrink to 36 million people, - UN

Despite the fact that according to legislation the results of the census are provided only in aggregate form, they can reflect a picture that will largely differ from the current understanding of the situation. This applies to the standard of living of households, and the real structure of the population by region. For example, State Statistics Service provides wrong data on the controlled territory of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, and all necessary calculations are made from this data. Based on the specified data, it is possible to make any calculations, plans, and expectations. The only question is whether a census will be conducted in 2020, or there will again be new reasons to postpone this process," says Oleksiy Amfiteatrov, director of the IBI-Rating rating agency.

Glib Segida, the managing partner of the Pravovest law firm, claims that a lot of calculations are tied to the number of the population – payment of social benefits and assistance, the amount of food reserves, the burden on transport and social infrastructure, the order for universities, etc.

According to the population census conducted in December 2001, the population was 48.45 million people. Since then, this number has reduced due to the natural population decline, migration to the other countries, "minus" the population of Crimea and parts of the territories of Donbas.


Related: In 2017, Ukraine's population decreased by 198,000 people

According to State Statistics Service, as of January 1, 2018, Ukraine's population amounted to 42.2 million permanent residents and 42.38 million people in the population. State Statistics Service voiced these figures, taking into account the births, deaths, departures, arrivals, etc. Although these figures can be conditionally accepted as realistic ones, a complete population census is necessary.

The price of the population census is about 85 million USD. Officials complain that the conduct of the census has been constantly postponed due to the lack of finance.

It should be noted that 85 million USD is not a kind of impossible amount that cannot be allocated for conducting the population census. On the other hand, this sum is rather big for our state budget.

"The census was out of the priority, given that over the past 10 years, the country has experienced two systemic crises, a "reform" of the management system and the social standards, so the issue of the census is postponed. In addition, a number of services (including State Statistics Service) are historically financed according to the residual principle," Amfiteatrov notes.

Related: Elder population in Ukraine to increase to 25% by 2025

According to Glib Segida, the main reason for the deferment of the census is a shortage of funds. In conditions when each budget is agreed with the IMF, with difficulty reaching the required level of deficit, allocating such money to the census is an unacceptable luxury. Choosing between allocating money for increasing pensions and salaries of the state employees and conducting a census, the effect of which no one will notice ... the choice for the authorities is obvious.

However, there are other points. "Most likely, after the census, the real number of pensioners will be less, as well as the number of recipients of social assistance, and some populated areas will remain without residents. We should not forget about the lists of voters, tens of thousands of people who no longer live in Ukraine," Segida adds.

Related: UN: 60 percent of Ukraine’s population below poverty line

On the other hand, there are also political reasons for not conducting the census. "The population census has moved from the statistical plane to the political one. It is clear that the population census will show that there is less real population. This would cause the problem of creating the necessary figures during the elections. There is also the problem of political reputation. The census means also a collection of data on real incomes and expenditures They might be far from those declared by the people in power," Okhrymenko stated.

According to Glib Segida, if it turns out that there are actually less than 40 million people living in Ukraine, it will mar the image of the current authorities. The population census also shows the structure of the population by age, education, human settlements, etc. The worsening of indicators in comparison with 2001 is very bad for the authorities.

Related: Nearly half of Earth’s population can’t afford basic medical services, - WHO, World Bank

In addition, as Okhrymenko notes that at the moment the census is completely impossible, because if the census does not take into account the population of the occupied part of Donbas and Crimea, some may perceive it so that Ukraine recognizes the loss of these territories.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or 112.International and its owners.

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