Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Window on Eurasia: Russia Prepares to Delay Census Scheduled for 2010 to 2012

Paul Goble

Vienna, August 12 – The Russian Federal Service for State Statistics (Rosstat) is preparing and will send to the Economic Development Ministry which oversees its work a formal proposal to delay the next national census from October 2010 to October 2012, Rosstat head Aleksandr Surikov said today in Vladivostok.
As he has done several times over the last few months, Surikov said that the international financial crisis was being this decision, given the enormous cost of conducting the census. On this occasion, he suggested that Moscow would have to come up with “no less than 10 billion rubles” (300 million US dollars), a figure somewhat below his earlier projections.
The Rosstat head said that the census could not be conducted in 2011 because the government will have to pay for elections during that year. As a result, he said, Moscow will have to carry it out in 2012 in order to meet the Russian constitution’s requirement for an enumeration at least every ten years (
Budgetary shortfalls are only part of the reason for Surikov’s proposal and the likelihood that the Russian government will accept it. In addition, Moscow clearly hopes that the economic crisis will be over by 2012 and that it will thus show a happier picture of Russian conditions than a head count conducted earlier.
Moreover, the budget crunch has already had a serious and negative impact on the census: Rosstat already indicated that it was reducing the number of questions it would ask in the census and the number of special samplings it would carry out. As a result, Moscow along with the expert community will have far less data whenever the census does take place.

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