Symposium 2001/41E

6 August 2001


                                                                           English and Russian


Symposium on Global Review of 2000 Round of

Population and Housing Censuses: 

Mid-Decade Assessment and Future Prospects

Statistics Division

Department of Economic and Social Affairs

United Nations Secretariat

New York, 7-10 August 2001















Statement from Russian Federation *

Irina Zbarskaya **




A. Basic organizational and methodological principles for conducting the 2002 all-Russia population census  1

1. Legislative basis for the census. 1

2. Enumeration method and trial censuses. 1

3. Census coverage. 2

4. Population and housing census questions. 3

5. Verification measures. 6

6. Confidentiality of data. 6

7. Computer-aided processing of census data. 6

8. Census data dissemination. 6

9. Expenditures. 6

10. Publicity and public relations. 7

A. Basic organizational and methodological principles for conducting the 2002 all-Russia population census

1.                  The forthcoming general census of the population of the Russian Federation is of great significance. It will be the first census to be held under political and socio-economic conditions that are essentially different from those of previous censuses in the Soviet period. The subject of the census will be the substantially different population of the new Russia at the outset of the third millennium. On the one hand, these changes are largely the product of the negative features of demographic development accumulated over a long period (practically the whole of the last century), which have been exacerbated in recent years by the difficulties resulting from the country’s transition to a market economy. On the other hand, the abrupt transformation of the scale and directions of migration after the collapse of the former USSR has also had a certain influence on the sociodemographic composition of the Russian population.

2.                  The scope and complexity of the problems being addressed make it essential to have reliable information and, above all, varied and accurate population data. Censuses were in the past and will continue, in the foreseeable future, to be the sole source of the multifaceted population data, which are a vital necessity at the federal and regional levels for the correct management of practically all spheres of social development and for the validation, development and implementation of any socio-economic programme.

3.                  The series of data obtained during a population census is of a unique kind. In the first place, this is related to the question of nationality. As the record of national affiliation no longer appears in new identity documents of citizens of the Russian Federation (thus entailing a reduction in the processing of current statistics), the census has become the sole source of information not only on the numerical strength of a particular ethnic group, but also on its command of its own language, marital status, level of education, sources of income, economic activity, occupations, prospective birth rate and so forth. The importance of such information for devising an effective nationalities policy in our multinational state is beyond dispute.

1. Legislative basis for the census

4.                  The development of democratic processes in society, the radical restructuring of the economy, the emergence of new relations in the federal structure of our state and the absence of a corresponding legal basis are all factors that made it essential to establish a legislative basis for issues related to the population census.

5.                  The population and housing census recommendations of the United Nations state that “For census operations to be carried out effectively, they must be underpinned by appropriate legislation. Without the sanction of law, the body conducting a census will not be empowered to seek information and the population will not be obliged to respond to questions.” The practice of countries with developed forms of democracy and law confirms the need to adopt such legislation. In the majority of countries, appropriate laws have been passed strictly regulating, in particular, the responsibility of the state for maintaining the confidentiality of the information obtained as well as the obligation of citizens to take an active part in the census.

6.                  A draft federal All-Russia Population Census Act was drawn up for the first time in the legal practice of our country by the Russian State Statistics Commission. For reasons of a political, legal and economic nature it was essential to adopt the federal All-Russia Population Census Act.

7.                  The political significance of the Act is that it has given a legislative character to the problems of the all-Russia population census as a national statistical project requiring significant financial resources. Moreover, in establishing a state governed by the rule of law, it is essential to provide citizens with legal guarantees of the confidentiality of their personal data gathered in the course of the census, and also to observe the human rights and freedoms defined by the constitution of the Russian Federation.

8.                  The Act’s legal significance is that it clearly delimits the powers and spells out the responsibilities of the executive bodies at the federal level, the subjects of the Russian Federation and local self-governing bodies in carrying out the preparatory activities, and performing their functions during the period of the census itself.

9.                  Its economic significance is that it enshrines in law the apportionment of expenditures for the census from funds from the federal budget, the budgets of the subjects of the Russian Federation, and those of local self-governing bodies. The reason for this proposed apportionment of resources is primarily that, despite the fact that the census covers the entire nation, the data compiled during it will be widely used for taking management decisions at all legislative and administrative levels, which have an equal interest in being informed of its results.

2. Enumeration method and trial censuses

10.              As part of the preparation for the all-Russia population census, the All‑Russia Conference of Statisticians was held in November 1995 and was attended by representatives of all interested ministries, departments and scientific organizations and regional state statistical bodies. The Conference discussed the programmatic, methodological and organizational rules for the forthcoming population census and made recommendations which were later put into effect in the 1997 and 2000 trial censuses.

11.              In February 1997, a trial census was conducted in four regions of the Russian Federation. It covered a total of 307,000 members of the sedentary population (0.2 per cent of the total population of the country), including 223,000 people (73 per cent) in urban settlements and 84,000 (27 per cent) in rural areas. This proportion corresponds to the overall proportion of the urban and rural population in the Russian Federation as a whole.

12.              On the basis of the recommendations of the All-Russia Conference of Statisticians, the Russian State Statistics Commission, in the course of the trial census, approved two methods of conducting a census (one whereby members of the population themselves filled in the survey questionnaires and one whereby members of the public were interviewed by specially enlisted and trained polling clerks).

13.              To date, we have been unable fully to use the method requiring members of the public to fill in the forms themselves. One of the reasons for this is that the public has had no experience in filling in the proposed questionnaires since the practice in earlier censuses of the Soviet period and in surveys conducted in the country was based on the method involving questioning by polling clerks, with which the public is more familiar (although, for example, in the 1897 census, the methods used in towns involved the completion of questionnaires by members of the public themselves). However, we intend, in the future, when conducting selective socio-economic surveys, to begin using various forms of that method in order to accustom the public gradually to such interaction. Thus, the interview method, whereby polling clerks make the rounds of people’s homes and record the answers of respondents on census forms, is currently the most widely acceptable for use in an overall population census.

14.              The 2000 trial population census was held in Moscow, in the Moscow region, and in Vladivostok, in the Primorye territory, with an overall population coverage of approximately 100,000 people. These two territories were not selected at random for the second trial census. Each of them has a complex social and industrial infrastructure and includes a range of different population categories. All districts have their own characteristics, which are in many respects typical of the country as a whole.

3. Census coverage

15.              Each successive population census has its own features which distinguish it from the earlier ones and which are due, in the main, to the specific socio-economic conditions in which it is conducted. To a significant extent, these peculiarities affect the census methodology.

16.              One of the most important methodological peculiarities of the forthcoming general population census in the Russian Federation is the change to counting the population only on the basis of the place of people’s permanent (habitual) residence. Earlier censuses studied two population categories—permanent residents and people present.

17.              At the same time, practice demonstrates that, both for research purposes and in everyday activities, it is information on the permanent population that is most often used, which is why the data from the most recent national surveys were, in the main, based on the permanent population. That largely made the census data methodologically comparable with current statistical data.

18.              In the post-war period most countries of the world made the changeover to counting the permanent population. The main reason for this is that data on the permanent population are more constant and less subject to chance variations than data based on a headcount. Thus, a changeover to the category of the permanent population in the forthcoming census will bring us more into line with international practice. In addition, by counting only one category in the census, and not including people on means of transport, in hospitals or in hotels, we shall be able to make considerable financial savings.

19.              In order to define the permanent inhabitants of the country, a time qualification of one year was established. All persons who have been in the Russian Federation for a year or more will be recorded as permanent residents. People leaving the Russian Federation for reasons of work (excluding those on official travel on behalf of state bodies, such as diplomats or military personnel), or to study in other countries will not be registered in the census as being part of the permanent population.

20.              The time criterion of one year was chosen with a view to reducing the influence of seasonal migration (particularly from countries in the Commonwealth of Independent States).

21.              The permanent residents of the Russian Federation will include people travelling abroad to visit relatives or acquaintances, for medical treatment, on holiday or as tourists. These people will be registered in the Russian Federation irrespective of the length of their absence from the country. Moreover, the permanent population will also include seamen on voyages (at the time when the population is counted). Also counted will be Russian and foreign citizens and stateless persons who arrived in the country from abroad to take up permanent residence, and refugees, including those who have not yet legalized their registration documents. This arrangement corresponds to United Nations recommendations according to which refugees are recorded in the country in whose territory they are at the time of the census.

22.              The place of residence in which the persons surveyed usually reside most of the time will, as a rule, be considered their permanent residence. This place may not coincide with the address at which the respondent has been registered—i.e., persons will be enumerated according to their place of actual residence.

23.              In addition, in conducting the upcoming population census, there are plans to take into account separately, under an abbreviated programme, persons who are temporarily situated in a territory of the Russian Federation and permanently reside beyond its borders. This category relates to people, regardless of their citizenship, who have come to the Russian Federation from abroad to study or work for a period of less than one year, for medical treatment, on holiday or to visit relatives or friends. Taking this category into account will make it possible, in our opinion, to estimate the overall number of persons in the country’s territory on the date of the census and also, which is very important, to use this information in estimating the extent of illegal migration.

24.              The following persons will not be subject to the census:

                    Foreign nationals working in diplomatic and other missions of their states and foreign military personnel and their family members;

                    Foreign nationals working in the territory of the Russian Federation in the offices of international organizations;

                    Foreign nationals who are members of government delegations or the legislative bodies of their states;

                    Russian nationals who reside permanently abroad; and

                    Russian nationals who have gone abroad to work under contract for Russian or foreign firms or to study for a period of more than one year.

25.              In accordance with the United Nations recommendations, households will be used as units of observation in the forthcoming all-Russia population census for the first time in national practice. The use of households as units of observation was approved for 5 per cent of the 1994 microcensus, when 2.6 million households were surveyed. Households were also selected as units of observation in the 1997 and 2000 trial censuses.

26.              The changeover in future census to taking account of households will not deprive us of the possibility of obtaining through them extensive information on families, which will be developed as a combination of various characteristics (composition, number of children, sources of income, level of education, housing conditions and others). This information will make it possible to evaluate the prospects for developing the contemporary Russian family and thereby prospects for normalizing to a certain degree the reproduction of the country’s population. It will be the basis for determining priority areas in the family and socio-demographic policy at both the federal and regional levels.

27.              In addition, the changeover to registering households in the Russian population censuses and surveys will ensure the possibility of accurate international comparisons.

4. Population and housing census questions

28.              The census programme, that is, the list of specific issues and questions on which the population will be surveyed, is one of the most important methodological aspects.

29.              In developing the draft 2002 all-Russia population census programme, account was taken of changes that have occurred in society, the need to obtain information, and the need to ensure maximum comparability of the results of the forthcoming census with data from previous population censuses and to adapt the census questions to the international recommendations.

30.              The all-Russia population census programme has now been approved by the government of the Russian Federation.

            A. Questions on housing conditions:

              1.    Characteristics of the dwelling:

                           Type of dwelling,

                           Period of construction of the building,

                           Size of the individual house or apartment,

                           General number of residential rooms in the individual house or apartment,

                           Size of the living space in the individual house or apartment and

                           Types of amenities in the dwelling.

                     2. Characteristics of the housing conditions of each household residing in an individual house, separate apartment or communal apartment:

                           Number of residential rooms occupied and

                           Size of living space.

            B.      Complete observation programme (under which the entire population will be canvassed):

                                    Relationship to the person registered first in the household,


                                    Date of birth,

                                    Marital status,

                                    Place of birth,


                                    Nationality (nation) or ethnic group,

                                    Training in an educational institution,

                                    Children’s attendance in pre-school institutions,


                                    Native language,

                                    Fluency in Russian,

                                    Other language in which the person surveyed is fluent,

                                    All means of subsistence,

                                    Work or remunerative employment between 2 and 8 October 2002 and

                                    Occupational position.

            C.     Selective observation programme (under which 25 per cent of the population will be canvassed):

                                    Type of economic activity of the enterprise (organization, one’s own business) where the persons canvassed principally work,

                                    Position or occupation at the principal place of work,

                                    Place of work,

                                    Search for work in the previous month (for persons 15 to 64 years of age who have not had work or remunerative employment one week prior to the census),

                                    Uninterrupted period of residence in the specific inhabited area and place of residence in January 1989 and

                                    Number of children born to women (for women 15 years of age and older).

31.              Twelve of the 16 questions in the comprehensive census programme practically coincide with those of previous censuses. Information on these questions will essentially make it possible to determine the development of data on the composition of the population and to see what changes have occurred in the population during the intercensal period. The so-called expensive questions (from the point of view of determining the results) have basically been included in the selective observation programme.

32.              The programme of the forthcoming population census differs from the 1989 census programme mainly by virtue of the essentially new inclusion of the section of questions on employment, which is linked to the socio-economic changes taking place in the country. The data obtained during the census will make it possible to determine the structure of the workforce, the number of unemployed citizens and their social composition and demographic characteristics. On the basis of this information, it will be possible to break down the population into the economically active and economically inactive, which will bring us considerably closer to international standards. This assumes a rather detailed elaboration of data on the employed population and its distribution according to types of economic activity and occupations, and employment situation in combination with various characteristics (age, gender, education, source of means for subsistence and so forth).

33.              The questions making it possible to determine the general potential of unemployment together with its sociodemographic characteristics are of particular importance for adequately assessing the economic situation in the Russian Federation.

34.              The question concerning citizenship, which previously was posed only to foreigners, will be new in the draft programme for the forthcoming census. The inclusion of this question in the draft programme is linked to the adoption in 1991 of the Citizenship Act. Processing the replies by the respondents to this question will make it possible for the first time to obtain information on the number and various characteristics of the citizens of the Russian Federation and the citizens of other states, both those permanently residing in our country and those temporarily situated in it, as well as persons with dual citizenship and those without citizenship.

35.              Obtaining data on the number and sociodemographic characteristics of persons that do not have Russian citizenship and reside permanently in the country will make it possible to study a set of very complicated problems linked to their legal status and will be instrumental in defining a state policy oriented towards promoting the voluntary integration of these persons into the political, social and economic life of the Russian Federation and creating the necessary conditions enabling them to adapt to the local culture while maintaining their own cultural identity.

36.              The information on Russian citizens will be necessary in order to study the electorate in preparing for and conducting elections to legislative bodies at the federal and regional levels.

37.              The transformation of the economic relations in our country also predetermined changes in the population’s sources of means of subsistence. The wording of this question and suggested answers to it have significantly changed in the draft programme for the forthcoming census. The draft programme reflects the new sources of income which to a greater extent correspond to the stage in the development of market relations in our country: interest rates on deposits and securities, income from the renting or leasing of property, unemployment allowances and others. The census is not designed to study the levels of income of citizens, although this information is of considerable interest for research. Surveys conducted have indicated that our population is still not prepared to answer this question, and including it in the census programme may to a certain extent elicit a negative reaction on the part of respondents. At the same time, we plan to consider this subject in conducting various surveys in the future.

38.              In the question on marital status, the sub-questions as to whether a marriage is registered or unregistered are new in the draft programme. This is a very important addition to the traditional question about marriage, since the data obtained from various sources should be interrelated and should be comparable by harmonizing concepts and categories in the programmes of censuses and the current enumeration. The register offices take into account legally registered marriages and divorces, and previous censuses recorded the actual marital status (i.e., they also included unregistered marriages and divorces), which complicated studying the problems of marriage and the family and analysing their stability.

39.              During the census, all those who at the time of the census are temporarily in the territory of the Russian Federation and reside permanently abroad will be surveyed with regard to:

                    Purpose of coming to the Russian Federation.

            Persons who have come in order to work will be canvassed about their:


                    Date of birth,

                    Country of birth,

                    Country of permanent residence,

                    Citizenship and

                    Nationality or ethnic group.


5. Verification measures

40.              In order to ensure a complete and accurate enumeration in the 2002 all-Russia population census (avoiding an undercount or a double count), verification measures will be carried out. Verification documents will be drawn up during the period in which the population is canvassed: a verification census sheet, a verification chip and a certificate on participation in the census.

41.              After the 2002 all-Russia population census is completed, over a period of five days an instructor-monitor will conduct a selective (10 per cent) verification survey of dwellings in an enumeration district in order to verify the completeness and accuracy of the population count.

42.              In order to assess the completeness and accuracy of the population count after the 2000 trial population census, an independent post-census verification survey was carried out. The independent verification survey dealt with 5 per cent of the population covered by the 2000 trial census.

6. Confidentiality of data

43.              Information on all persons (census subjects) obtained in the 2002 all-Russia population census will not be subject to disclosure (dissemination) and will be used only by the Russian State Statistics Commission in order to set up a federal state statistical database on the population of the Russian Federation.

44.              The census sheets, other documents and material storage devices containing confidential information on the population will be subject to a special regime for storage and accessibility.

7. Computer-aided processing of census data

45.              The census forms to be filled out are two-sided machine-readable documents. The computer-aided processing of completed census forms will be carried out at the territorial and federal levels.

46.              The input (scanning) of information from machine-readable documents, identification, and the formal and logical verification to prepare information for loading into the centralized database of the 2002 all-Russia population census will be carried out at the territorial level (territorial offices of the Russian State Statistics Commission—inter-territorial cluster centres for data processing).

47.              Primary data will be processed at the federal level in order to establish the database and final regulation tables. The possibility of drawing up tables on the basis of non-regulation questions is provided for.

8. Census data dissemination

48.              The results of the 2002 all-Russia population census will be disseminated in official publications of the Russian State Statistics Commission (statistical thematic compilations, brochures and press releases in hard copy and technical storage devices) and also through the Internet and other communication channels.

9. Expenditures

49.              An approximate estimate of expenditures for preparing and conducting the 2002 all-Russia population census and processing its results was approved by the government of the Russian Federation. Federal budget outlays for carrying out the census will amount to 3.2 billion rubles.

50.              In addition, it is planned that part of the expenditures will be charged to the budgets of the subjects of the Russian Federation and local budgets (providing premises, furniture and communication link-ups for the enumeration and instructor stations, and providing them with security and transport). According to estimates, the expenditures by the subjects of the Russian Federation are calculated to amount to approximately 800 million rubles.

51.              Accordingly, the budget expenditures at all levels for the 2002 all-Russia population census will amount to approximately 4 billion rubles or US$142 million. The cost per person surveyed will not exceed US$1.

10. Publicity and public relations

52.              The basic objective of conducting publicity and public relations work is to inform all inhabitants of the Russian Federation about the 2002 all-Russia population census, inculcate in them a positive attitude with regard to the census, encourage participation in it and provide reliable information.

53.              The following groups have been identified as targeted audiences for the publicity and public relations work:

                    Age groups (children and adolescents, young people, and middle-aged and elderly persons),

                    Social groups (pupils, students, the employed and unemployed population, population groups with different income levels),

                    Inhabitants of large cities, medium-sized and small towns, settlements and villages and

                    Population groups living in difficult-to-reach areas.

54.              In providing information about the 2002 census, account has been taken of the fact that the Russian Federation is a multinational state where different religions are practised.

55.              The publicity and public relations work is being conducted through all the mass media, both at the national and regional levels. This work is being carried out through measures based on links to the general public, direct advertising and special projects.

56.              At the beginning of May 2001, the Public Opinion Fund conducted an all-Russia opinion poll to determine the basic attitudes of Russians with regard to the all-Russia population census, which will be carried out in October 2002. The results of the poll indicate that almost half of those surveyed (45 per cent) first heard of the forthcoming census only during the opinion poll. Only about one fifth of Russians (22 per cent) know that the census is to take place in October 2002, and approximately one third (31 per cent) had heard something about it.

57.              The overwhelming majority of Russians are convinced about the need to conduct the census—81 per cent of those surveyed are of this opinion. A total of 7 per cent believe that it is unnecessary to conduct the census.

58.              A large part of those surveyed (88 per cent) plan to participate in the census. However, the percentage of those who do not intend to participate or have not yet decided (12 per cent) is also rather significant. Nevertheless, in comparison to October 2000, the level of readiness on the part of Russians to participate in the census has increased somewhat.


October 2000

May 2001




I shall participate



I shall refuse to participate



I find it difficult to answer




*         This document was reproduced without formal editing.

**        Statistical Agency of the Russian Federation, Russian Federation. The views expressed in the paper are those of the author and do not imply the expression of any opinion on the part of the United Nations Secretariat.