Are we 42 million - or only 35?
Who benefits from Ukraine living without a population census?
For 17 years now, there was no population census in Ukraine. Despite the UN recommendations, which clearly sets out the requirement for doing census at least every 10 years, the changing governments are in no hurry to resolve this issue.
The census was postponed from 2012 to 2014, then in 2016 it was postponed again. They promise it in 2020, but will they? The World Population Day, which is celebrated on July 11, will not be considered a holiday in Ukraine, because our demographic situation is deplorable - birth rate is steadily falling, and we are leaders in mortality. Delay in census, according to sociologists and demographers, is a huge field for manipulation both in the economic sphere and in politics. In light of the forthcoming elections, Vesti investigated who benefits from inaccurate population statistics.
Only Ukraine and Sudan are without census
As known, last year the Ministry of Social Policy made a statement that population census will be done in 2020. They were even going to allocate a billion hrivynas for these purposes. However, until now the Cabinet has not published a decision about the exact dates of the census, nor about how much resources it will require.
According to Ella Libanova, director of the Demography Institute of NASU, during the past ten-year cycle only we and Sudan missed the census.
"The thing is that we need to allocate money for the census right now - we need to start preparatory work, and it is complex and expensive," says Libanova. - Indeed - we need to start training people, decide whether people will use paper or handhelds. And money is not allocated yet. Even if the census takes place in 2020, we will receive the first data, possibly by the end of the year, and possibly even in 2021. For me, it's a crime to live another 4-5 years without demographic statistics. "
Demographic data are fundamental for any economical planning. And the more errors they have, the more opportunities are available to manipulate the numbers, to replace economical macro-indicators and the results of political battles.
Voters do not count
Sociologists agree that failure to conduct a timely population census enables the officials to hide their own interests behind false numbers. This is also true for the upcoming elections. The Committee of Voters of Ukraine (CVU), of course, reassures that they will compile electoral liss even without a census.
"There is a state register of voters, which functions reasonably well - and there have never been any complaints against it. In recent years, dead souls have practically disappeared from this register. Therefore, there is no reason to believe that non-conduct of the census can affect the elections", CVU representative Vitaly Teslenko said.
However, sociologist Sergei Litvinov is sure that the CVU is being cunning:
"Population census is the main tool for long-term development planning of the country. But we see an attempt to delay this most important event. We are waiting for elections. It is clear that voter lists are significantly different from the real number of voters and dead souls. I personally worked in the elections and I know well the quality of the lists. In addition, there are "internally replaced persons" (a PC term for Donbass refugees - translator) who can also participate in the electoral process, and our State Committee for Statistics can not tell us the exact number of these citizens from Donbass and from the Crimea. "
According to the expert, living without a census can be beneficial to representatives of local election commissions and to the Central Election Commission, as they can to manipulate data on the total number of voters, turnout and other factors that ultimately affect the voting results. As well as representatives of political parties who during the preparatory stage can "juggle" with data on the number of signatures collected, manipulate the data of public opinion polls and provide the CEC with incorrect data on the level of support from the population.
We work for three
In addition, it is important that without census, Ukraine simply can not effectively develop the economy. After not having accurate data on the working population, it is impossible to plan the level of fiscal burden for each citizen. Lysenko is sure that the real number of the population of Ukraine, considering the temporary loss of the occupied territories, is approaching 35 million. Out of them, economically active citizen are about 12 million. "Thus, every working Ukrainian feeds her/himself and two other people. This is a very big load", the expert says.
Even the economy suffers from the lack of demographic control, as even the GDP data are replaced. Lime indicators for all spheres of life are used for the budget, taken offhead.
"Finance in the budget is even excessive, it is spent less. As a result, there is a delta which is put into somebody's pockets. This allows manipulations with numbers for the purpose of unlawful enrichment of budget developers and implementers", Lysenko believes.
It's not about financing
Lysenko's opinion is shared by political scientist Ruslan Bortnik. According to him, the reasons for the permanently delaying the census are not exactly financial. Even the amount of one billion hrivnyas is not a big burden for the country.
"Kobolev received almost the same bonus from Naftogaz", the expert jokes, hinting that it's feasible to finance the census even without donations from Western partners. - Today, any opinion poll has a huge error. After all, any survey is based on a sample, the sample is based on statistics, and the latest statistics are for 2001. In the absence of census, you can manipulate anything, including the voters registry and their appearance rate. Ignorance of statistics is an advantage, because it allows us to promote any policy - ethnic, external, and economic. But to what degree this policy will be optimal, if the government relies only on the data from State Committee for Statistics, which have a huge error - this is a big question".