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Appeal from the Sociological Association of Ukraine to the Government of Ukraine on the census of the population of Ukraine
The Government of Ukraine planned to conduct a census of the population of Ukraine in upcoming 2020; the funds for the census were allocated in the budget; now, as a part of preparation for the census, a trial census is being carried out in Kyiv and one of the UTCs (United Territorial Community) of Kyiv region. Meanwhile, out of the statements of Dmytro Dubilet, the Minister of the Cabinet of Ministers, it became known that in order to save resources, there is a plan to cancel the census, and to carry out instead the rapid population estimate with the use of mobile operators` databases, population registers and calibrating sociological researches.
The Sociological Association of Ukraine welcomes the rapid assessment of the population of Ukraine. However, the population estimates can be a good complement, but they cannot be a substitute for a census.
First of all, the census gathers interconnected data about population and housing that characterize the household structure, national, linguistic, and family composition of the population, employment, income sources, and enable to have these characteristics at the level of individual territorial units, including the smallest geographical territories, the smallest groups of the population, etc. These data are needed for the planning of socio-economic development of particular territories and the country in general, working on social infrastructure (including pre-school institutions, schools, professional and higher education institutions, primary health care institutions, transport connection, establishments of sports and leisure, cultural institutions, etc.), regulating labor market development, fight against poverty, language policy development, media planning and more.
Secondly, the Government initiated the cancellation of the census after the consultation with the ministers. But the census is needed not only by the Government but also by the heads of oblasts (micro-regions), districts and cities. It is needed by business (human capital assessment for investments, marketing of the goods, planning), banks, foundations, NGOs, academics, etc. The census should provide basic information to the state as a whole, not just to the ministers.
Thirdly, "the unique advantage of the census is that it represents the entire statistical universe, down to the smallest geographical units of the country" (UN Population Fund, UNFPA, https://www.unfpa.org/census). Minister Dubilet explained that, if needed, other sources of information and databases could be found or additional sociological surveys could be conducted. This need has been around for a long time already, but conducting sociological surveys that are representative of all oblasts, districts, cities and urban areas is simply unrealistic.
Fourth, the census is needed to collaborate with other states and international organizations that assess the country's development prospects and investment opportunities. Our statistics should be consistent with those of other European countries. Ukraine is one of a few countries that has not been conducting a population census for almost 20 years.
Fifth, most of the world`s countries that applied the combined method for a census back in 2010 (a combination of "traditional" method and borrowing of administrative data), used the existing administrative population registers (population as a whole, addresses of dwellings, buildings and dwelling funds, levels of employment/unemployment, social security, taxes, insurance, business, etc.). (UNECE, https://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/stats/publications/2013/Measuring_population_and_housing_2010_EN.pdf). But they all noted such problems of registers as their quality, incompleteness of coverage, lack of data standardization, technical and legal problems of access, which is entirely relevant to the state of registers in Ukraine.
We understand the Government's interest in saving money, and it is possible to make the conduction of the census cheaper (i.e. to have both long and short forms and use a long form only in every fifth household; purchase 25 thousands of tablets instead of 100 thousands, extend the data collection time, etc). But canceling a complete census also has many negative consequences (including the financial ones), which can lead to much greater losses, although they are more difficult to estimate now.
The Sociological Association of Ukraine calls on the Government to put enough effort and find the possibility of conducting a census of the population of Ukraine following the international standards and the Conference of European Statisticians Recommendations for the 2020 Censuses of Population and Housing (http://www.unece.org/publications/2020recomm.html).
Adopted at a meeting of the Board of SAU, December 10, 2019.
President of the Sociological Association of Ukraine
Academician of NAS of Ukraine Vil Bakirov