Ukraine population estimated at 37.3 mln, traditional census not employed

24 January 2020

Ukraine’s population amounts to 37.3 mln people, Ukraine’s State Statistics Service announced on Jan. 23 at a presentation of the results of an estimate made without employing a conventional door-to-door census. The data does not include the population of occupied Crimea and the uncontrolled territories in Donetsk and Luhansk regions. A so-called “electronic census” was initiated by the Minister of Cabinet of Ministers Dmytro Dubilet and performed by the joint effort of the Cabinet of Ministers, State Statistics Service, the Institute of Demography and Social Research and several other specialists in data collection and processing.


For the estimate, the government used three methods. The first method was based on the data of mobile operators, the data of statistical households’ examination and the registers of the Pension Fund and Ministry of Justice. The second method employed the available data on gender and age by the State Statistics Service, the State Registrar of Compulsory State Social Insurance, and extrapolation techniques for determining the age and gender structure. The third approach involved data of personal identification (tax-payer) numbers, data on individuals’ contacts with state bodies, and data on newborns survival and migration balance. The deviation of each of three methods results from the announced population count doesn’t exceed 2.86%.


Evgeniya Akhtyrko: The government preferred the innovative method of population counting, arguing that the traditional census is too costly and time consuming, while there is an urgent need to have an updated estimate of Ukraine’s population for appropriate decision-making both in public and private sector. The latest traditional census in Ukraine was conducted in 2001, and the next census, which was supposed to have been conducted in 2010, was missed.


During the last ten years or so, the correctness of state statistics on Ukraine’s population was questioned, as Ukraine’s government bodies didn’t have the appropriate methods to account for the massive informal outward migration. Indeed, the State Statistics Service estimated Ukraine’s population at 41.9 mln, which is 12% higher than the estimate based on the “electronic census”.


However, the Cabinet’s innovative approach for counting Ukrainians was heavily criticized by many specialists. It’s not clear whether or not the international organizations find the methodology of this estimate reliable enough in order to use it as official census statistics. Moreover, this innovative method fails to deliver a big chunk of social and economic data which is collected by traditional census. In our opinion, it’s highly likely that the advocates of the old school approach will prove that traditional census still has to be conducted.

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