Not even 42 million: How many people actually live in Ukraine?

Author : Natalia Lebed

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukraine's last census has been conducted 18 years ago
22:00, 26 July 2019

Before the last parliamentary elections, the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) counted 35.5 million voters in Ukraine. Including those who reside in the occupied territories. The CEC has registered 34.5 million electoral address. At the same time, taking into account those citizens who dropped out (and this is another million), it turns out 33.5 million.

In order to calculate how many people live in Ukraine, it is necessary to add to the 33.5 million mentioned the number of persons under 18 years old. The number of these people is not known, because, as it turned out, the statistics take into account the "able-bodied" and "disabled" age, that is, from 15 years. Therefore, we can only talk about what percentage of the total number is the proportion of the population aged 0 to 14. And it is 14.8%. The data, however, is old (as of 2014), but there is simply no fresh one.

So, there should be around 5.8 million, who have not reached working age children. 33.5 + 5.8 = 39.3 million. There is still a small number of people aged 15 to 18, but hardly even together with them, we will reach the figure of 42.3 million, which is allegedly fixed now.

Related: Ghost voters: Why Ukraine's authorities are afraid of the population census

We say "allegedly," because all such calculations are very conditional. Only the census could provide correct data, but it has not been conducted since 2001. Twenty years ago, the Ukrainians were persecuted by the slogans “there must be 52 million of us,” that is, at least as many as at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union. But the “record” could not be repeated, and the next two decades took another 10 million. And this is without taking into account those citizens who, fortunately, did not die, but simply went abroad. These are, according to some (unverified) data, another 5-6 million.

Getting ready for winter

“The first thing that needs to be done is to urgently appoint a census of the population,” Halyna Klymovych, the former investigator of the Prosecutor General’s Office (GPU) for particularly important cases, advises Zelensky.

Does Ze!Team understand that demography is not only a science about the composition and movement of the population but also a factor that directly affects the development and security of the state? How many of us are left?" Klymovych asks.

Related: Why Ukraine should conduct a population census

For the five-year cadence former president Poroshenko did not hurry up to conduct the census. However, in April 2018, Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman wrote on his Facebook page that “we must prepare for a census of the population.”

The state of preparation meant that in December 2019 a “test census” would be held, which would cover individual districts of Kyiv and the region. Actually, less than half a year remains until December, but by the prime minister will be replaced, and the different government will be formed. So, will the new government take over the initiative?

Money is a stumbling block

It is also not clear how much the All-Ukrainian Population Census could cost. State Statistics Service, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade said that the figure would be known only after the adoption of the budget for the next year. In 2017, Deputy Prime Minister Pavlo Rozenko said that counting Ukrainians would cost at least 79 million USD. And Ella Libanova, the director of the Institute of Demography, pointed out the amount of 118 million USD.

“Everything depends on the fact that a huge amount of money is required for the census - up to 118 billion,” Ruslan Stefanchuk, the presidential representative in the Verkhovna Rada, stated. “We planned to buy special tablets to conduct the census, and later, we would give these tablets to schools,” he adds.  

But the tablets are not the problem. The most expensive part of the census is opening of centers for the accumulation of information and training for census takers. The more money allocated, the more such centers would open, the more effective the census would be. In 2001, about 250,000 temporary employees were recruited for the census. According to the State Statistics Service, in 2020 they would employ about 100,000 people.

Related: By 2030, Ukraine's population may shrink to 40 million, - UN report

However, perhaps it’s not only about money. A population census might reveal many nuances, not really convenient for the authorities, Ruslan Bortnyk, director of the Ukrainian Institute for Policy Analysis and Management, notes. “Ukraine would have local elections, where the result is determined by a few votes, so it’s not profitable to conduct a census of the population,” he says. “Its results would change the sociological samples and limit the possibility of speculations with ballots.” The expert predicts that the All-Ukrainian Census would take place between 2021 and 2024, during a period of political stability.

Why the census is necessary?

 Vadym Pylypenko, a lawyer and representative of Ukraine in the Venice Commission 2013-2017, noted: "Ukraine is the only state in Europe where the population census has not been conducted for 18 years. Although, according to the UN rules, it must be organized every 10 years. If the census does take place and we do not know the real numbers, this will drastically change the pension and social picture in whole.”

The wrong number of the population means an error in the forecast of domestic consumption, inaccuracies in the calculation of social assistance, the inability to calculate the load on the infrastructure and making forecasts for the development of labor potential. According to the State Statistics Service, 17 million citizens are registered, of which 16 million are employed. But with a population of 42.5 million able-bodied, there should be about 23 million. That is, seven million are unemployed, right? At the same time, we are planning a large-scale pension reform; with no idea how much contributions a person can pay to the Pension Fund.

If we really have 7 million potential taxpayers, then the pension reform would be different. It is necessary than not to raise the retirement age, but simply to give people more jobs. We proceed from the assumption that labor reserves are exhausted because we do not have reliable data on the demographic situation. If we know the true figures, then it will be necessary to revise the healthcare reform, monetization of benefits, Social housing program, etc.

In addition, the Ministry of Social policy takes into account the official number of IDPs - about 1.5 million. But how many of them actually live in the uncontrolled territories? Ukraine has not yet been created a single register of beneficiaries. For instance, we have 12 million of transport privileges. And no one is tracking the dynamics of the migration processes of recent years due to the conflict in the east.

Pylypenko adds: “Each agency protects its database since the opening of this database and cross-checks can reveal bogus data -“dead souls.”

Related: G7 Ambassadors: Parliamentary elections in Ukraine held in compliance with fundamental rights and freedoms

It is clear that the revealing of true statistics will affect the image of Ukraine because the West will see where all the billions of funds, received by Ukraine over the years of reform, have come to.

“But who benefits from all these census speculations? "Dead souls" allow you to receive budget funding for the "inflated" numbers of beneficiaries, as well as to raise funds from international donors for various "reforms." In addition, it is easier to hide the scale of the extinction of the country. And it is much more convenient to falsify elections if there is no objective information about the number of voters," our interlocutor sums up.


Ze!Team supposedly well realizes it. Ruslan Stefanchuk states that the relevance of the census is primarily related to the social component. “Now we just don’t know how many people live in the country and what their social status is. There are a lot of citizens, who have registered benefits and used fake documents for it,” he says.

And Bohdan Danylyshyn, the chairman of the board of the National Bank of Ukraine, recalls that a so-called budget resolution is now being formed. It should be submitted on September 15. "Now we have to create all the main economic indicators for 2020, including the growth rate of gross domestic product, the growth rate of the minimum wage, the inflation rate, and other indicators, without which the country just cannot develop," he said.

And all the above-mentioned indicators and other budget figures are calculated on the basis of the population size, Danylyshyn stresses.

Related: Parliamentary election in Ukraine: Central Election Committee processed 100 percent e-protocols

Yes, indeed, a true population census will correct, so to speak, the nation’s “self-portrait”. Ukrainians would know not the most pleasant things about themselves. Of course, following the results of the census, changes in the structure of the population will be noticeable. First, it is obvious that it will be smaller.

And no matter how difficult (including emotionally) the census issue is, it is necessary to go through it. Another thing is that “no one has said exactly about the date of the new census. Let's hope that they will hold it in the near future. There is a request for this. Independent international experts should be involved. Otherwise, we would suffer from image losses,” Pylypenko adds.

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