Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Participation in 2010 Russian Census Down from 2002 Count

Paul Goble

Staunton, November 9 – The share of residents in the Russian Federation who did not take part either directly or indirectly in the just-completed national census more than doubled from the 2002 enumeration, rising from five percent to 11 percent, with only slightly more than half of all Russians assumed the new count as accurate, according to the results of a new poll.
The All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), a survey organization widely thought to have close ties with the powers that be, interviewed 1600 people in 46 federal subjects October 30-31 concerning their experiences with the census that had concluded in most places the week before (wciom.ru/index.php?id=195&uid=13982).
According to the VTsIOM survey, 65 percent of those surveyed said they had been personally contacted by census takers, 11 percent fewer than said they had been interviewed during the course of the 2002 count. Twenty-two percent more had their census information provided by relatives, but the share which did not take part at all rose from five percent to 11 percent.
Elderly people were more likely to be interviewed than younger ones and residents of the Urals and Siberia more than those of other regions, VTsIOM found. Those whose data was supplied by relatives tended to be younger – especially in the 18 to 24-year-old cohort --and from the southern regions of the country.
Of those contacted, 92 percent told VTsIOM that they had been surveyed at their residences. Four percent said they had visited census offices over all, with that figure rising to 11 percent in Moscow and in St. Petersburg. And two percent of those questioned by VTsIOM said they had provided their census information over the telephone.
According to the VTsIOM sample, 58 percent of Russian residents said that they “do not doubt” that the census results will “reliably reflect the situation in the country,” but 29 percent took the opposition point of view with skeptics especially numerous in the two capitals (43 percent), and those who did not participate (68 percent).
Given the problems that surfaced after the 2002 count, which failed to meet international standards for a census by failing to contact personally at least 90 percent of the estimated sample, it is notable that the VTsIOM poll suggests that Russian census takers again failed to meet that standard.
Indeed, many people in the blogosphere have expressed skepticism about all these numbers, and the fact that suspicions are so high in Moscow and St. Petersburg and among those who declared to VTsIOM that they did not take part guarantees that as more results from this enumeration come out over the next two years, many of them will be disputed.
Given how important the census is for everything ranging from budget transfers to intra-Russia haj quotas, those disputes are likely to cast a shadow over this count just as dark as the one that still hangs over the 2002 census. And that in turn means that many in the Russian Federation will continue to believe that the last accurate census was the last, 1989, Soviet one.

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