In 1997 it was one hundred years since the conduct of the first General Census of Population in this country. The abstract “Population of Russia : 1897-1997” is dedicated to this event. On the basis of the materials, collected by the state statistics during the past one hundred years, this abstract contains most complete and long-period data on the numbers and composition of the population and demographic indicators.

The history of population is the history of society. Changes in numbers and composition of population, as well as in demographic processes, which make for these changes, reflect complicated, sometimes contradictory and even tragic events in the life of countries and their population.

In the history of mankind the twentieth century was the time of profound changes in economics, politics, culture, way of life of people, in all spheres of social life.

Socio-economic changes in Russia were especially significant. In the first quarter of the century the country suffered three revolutions, First World War and Civil War, starvation and devastation; in the second quarter and middle of the century - repressions and collectivization, Second World War and difficulties in rehabilitation of war- ravaged economy. Losses in population caused by this were great, especially as a result of starvation in 1933 and wars in 1939-1945.

History of population is a history of demographic statistics at the same time. Russian demographic statistics has travelled a long path of formation and development, preconditioned by the peculiarities of social and economic structure of Russia.

During more than one and a half centuries inspections were the main basis of population accounting in Russia. The real aim of inspections was to account taxable classes of population. There have been conducted ten of such inspections: the first one was in 1719, the last - in 1858.

Since the middle of 1860-s, under the influence of urgent needs of economic development, there began to be conducted “one day” population censuses in the towns (before the First World War there were not less than 200 of such censuses), while zemstvos of some gubernias (provinces) conducted “podvorny” (house-to-house) censuses of peasant population.

However, data on population received in such the way didn’t satisfy the requirements of statistics, concerning different variables of population needed for government decisions and scientific studies. It was necessary to conduct a complete and general population census of the Empire.

The first General Population Census of the modern type took place in 1897 after many years urgent requests of progressive Russian scholars-statisticians.

Its preparation and conduct is put down to a special credit of Mr. P.P. Semenov-Tian’ Shansk’sky, famous Russian geographer and statistician, who was the Director of the Central Statistical Committee of the Ministry of the Interior from 1863 to 1882 and the Chairman of Statistical Council of the Ministry of the Interior during many years.

The programme of the All-Russia Population Census was discussed at the First All-Russia Statistical Congress organized on the initiative of Mr. P.P. Semenov in 1870 and at the Eighth Session of the International Statistical Congress in 1872. In June 1895 the final programme of the census was approved by the Emperor Nicolas the Second.

The census was conducted as of “early morning” of 9 February (28 January old style) 1897. In the towns there was used a method of self-registration, whereas in the rural areas a method of population interview was applied. Along with the enumerators who received payment for their job there were enlisted as well the services of enumerators who were working on a free-of-charge basis. Specially for them there was introduced a Medal for Labour on the First General 1897 Population Census. Among those decorated with this medal was Mr. Anton Chekhov.

A household was an observation unit for which an enumeration schedule containing 14 items had been prepared. The population census programme included social and demographic characteristics of the respondents, their marital status, place of birth, religion, native language, literacy and employment. The results of the census made it possible for the first time to receive relatively complete data on the total population of Russia of that time, which enables to consider it as an important landmark in accumulating knowledge on population of the country and regard it as the beginning of the new, modern period in the history of Russian statistics of population.

The next population census was planned to be conducted in 1915 but it didn’t take place because of the War. The agricultural census which was conducted in 1916 was a failure. In August-September 1917 there were conducted agricultural and urban population censuses which didn’t make it possible to receive any reliable and complete data on population.

The census of 1920 which was conducted in difficult conditions of the Civil War and intervention provided only for the data on three quarters of the country’s population. In March 1923 the urban population census was conducted.

In December 1926 there took place the first All-Union Population Census which had been designed at high level at that time and implemented by experienced specialists who had been working before in zemstvo statistics. Detailed materials of that census were published and up till now it is a model in the history of Russian statistics both from the point of view of methodology and presenting of the results.

The second All-Union Population Census was originally planned to be conducted in 1933. However, starvation caused by collectivization had resulted in demographic catastrophe which was thoroughly concealed. For that reason the census was postponed several times and it took place only in January 1937. Although its programme prepared by professional statisticians had been cut down and distorted by J. V. Stalin, the census was conducted successfully. However, its resulting figures of the population numbers turned out to be lower than the estimates published before , which gave cause to declare the census a failure and inflict repressions upon its leaders as well as many statisticians all over the country.

In January 1939 one more census was conducted which was declared to be reliable that time. However, as it is known today through the archives materials, the new leaders of the census, being afraid of repressions, deliberately increased the population numbers shown by the results of the census.

The next population census in the USSR took place only 20 years later - in 1959. One of the reasons for its delay was the unwillingness to reveal real scales of population losses because the pre-war population numbers restored only in 1955.

Since that time population censuses began to be conducted on a regular basis. The next censuses were conducted in 1970, 1979 and 1989 respectively.

Since the middle of 1960-s the Central Statistical Board of the USSR started to organize small-scale sample surveys of family budgets and dwelling conditions of workers, salaried employees and collective farmers. The large part of their programs was devoted to the receipt of demographic data. The experience of those surveys made it possible in 1985 to organize a micro-census of larger scale which covered about 5 percent of the population. The second 5 percent micro-census was conducted in February 1994 already in new Russia. The data of the micro-censuses were not generalized (i.e. not distributed to all population) and they are not given in this publication.

The changes which took place in the country during the recent years affected population and demographic processes considerably. At present the need for new census is especially urgent and Russian statistics is preparing to conduct it in November 1999. The results of the forthcoming census will make it possible to get a comprehensive picture of socio-demographic changes which have occurred in the country during the recent ten years period in the course of political and economic transformations.

An important source of demographic information is current vital statistics showing birth and death rates.

At the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries the information on births, deaths and marriages was based not on the registration of the events themselves but on the registration of religious rites of baptism, marriage ceremonies and burials which were conducted by local priests. The main shortcoming of the church registration lay in the fact that the persons, who died before having been baptized and who were buried not according to the orthodox rite, were not registered. Most reliable were the data on the persons who professed Christian religion. Although in between centuries and at the beginning of the twentieth century these data were rather widely published by the Central Statistical Committee of the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Empire, they can be considered to be more or less complete only for 50 gubernias of the European part of Russia.

At the end of 1917, after the church was separated from the state, the church registration was replaced by a civil one and registration of demographic events and vital registration became the responsibility of the local authorities. However, registration of births and deaths was incomplete in most places of the Asian part of Russia (in some gubernias of Siberia, in the Middle Asia), especially in the rural areas.

Current vital statistics began to be properly organized at the end of 1920-s, when vital registration was entrusted with village Soviets and Executive Committees of the town Soviets. But the process of vital statistics improvement was slow for the reason that many vital registration offices submitted their data with delay or did not submit them at all.

By 1939 it was managed to organize the submission of information by all the vital registration offices. However, it didn’t mean that the registration of births and deaths by each vital registration office on their territories was complete. Regular control of the registration quality at that time was not organized.

Especially difficult was the renewal of demographic events registration during the first post-war years. Important role in that was played by control of births and deaths registration completeness organized on a regular basis by the Central Statistical Board of the USSR since 1948.

Still more difficult was the organization of current registration of migration.

During the period of modern history of Russia the changes in numbers of population and its distribution were affected by great migration flows. At the end of the nineteenth century that was the migration to Siberia and colonization of the outskirts of the Empire; later on those were wars, mass deportations of peoples, evacuation to the Eastern parts of the country during the war of 1941-1945, migration flows after the end of the war, demobilization of the army and reevacuation of civil population, to say nothing of the migration between rural and urban territories as well as considerable emigration during the first post-revolution years.

Since the end of the previous century up till 1920-s of the present century migration was accounted by way of migrants registration at the main points of their movement to the large land territories of the Eastern regions. Later on such the registration was replaced by the reports of the Executive Committees of the local authorities about the dispatch of the migrants and by the reports of the collective farms about their arrival and placement in jobs. However, that information did not cover all the migrants.

That is why it is not incidental that the questions about the place of birth or about the duration of residence were included, in this or other wording, in the programmes of almost all the first population censuses as well as in the rejected draft programme of the 1937 census.

Later on the question about the duration of residence (year since which you live here) was included in the programmes of the 1970 and 1979 population censuses. The programme of the 1989 census was added besides that with questions about the place of birth and about the type of the settlement (urban or rural) where the respondent had been living before he moved to a new place of residence.

Since 1932, when the passport system as well as “propiska” procedure (i.e. receipt of the permission to reside in a given populated area) were restored, the current registration of people coming to a certain place of residence and those leaving for other populated areas began to be implemented first in the large and then in all the towns and town-type settlements as well as in the rural populated areas of some territories.

Since 1953 such the registration covered all the rural areas. However, the data received didn’t give the complete picture on migration.

Beginning with 1950-s the accounting of migration was done on the basis of special statistical coupons attached to the address certificates of arrivals and departures which were filled out by police passport services in case of permanent place of residence change.

After cancellation of the “propiska” procedure and its replacement in 1993 by registration at the place of residence, the previous method of migration accounting has been practically maintained. In fact, this method provides for the accounting of not the number of migrants, but the number of place of residence changes, as far as a person can change it more that once in a year. However, there are not too many of such cases and this convention is usually neglected.

During the years between the censuses the population numbers are estimated on the basis of current registration of births, deaths and migration.

In most cases the population numbers computations were based on the results of the population censuses. The figures of the last census (recalculated as of 1 January) or previous estimates of the number of inhabitants of certain territory are added by numbers of births or arrivals during the year, less the numbers of deaths or departures, thus making an estimate of the population numbers as of the beginning of the next year.

It is supposed that such computations should be supported by rather reliable data for each component of the computation. However, the brief description of the history of demographic statistics in this country shows that during the pre-Revolutionary period and practically during the first half of the twentieth century sufficiently reliable figures to make the above computations were not available. Reliable can be only estimates made after the 1959 census.

Each estimate required thorough analysis of the base data and very laborious calculations. Thus, the estimates for 1940 were computed by way of adding the figures of natural increase of population ( difference between births and deaths numbers ) for 1939 to the resulting figures of the 1939 census. The estimates for 1950 were done by the method of a “reverse calculation ” basing on the 1959 census figures and using all the available sources of data: administrative records, lists of food - stuffs coupons recipients, lists of electors and other documents.

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Certain incomparability of time series given in the abstract is explained by changes in the borders and methodological differences. During a century not only the name of the state was changed, but its outside borders and borders of the regions as well.

At the end of the last century all Russian Empire was called Russia and from march 1917 to January 1918 it was called Russian Soviet Republic. Then, up till the end of 1991 it had the name of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) and after the disintegration of the former USSR at the end of 1991 it began to be called Russian Federation.

After the formation of the USSR (December 1922) changes in outside border of the Russian territory took place: in 1924-1926 several territories, which were mainly populated by Byelorussians were turned over to the Byelorussian SSR; in 1936 Kazakh and Kyrgyz Autonomous SSR dropped out of the RFSR; after the 1939-1940 war between the Soviet Union and Finland Karelian isthmus with the city of Vyborg was included in Leningrad region. Part of the territory received in accordance with the treaty was turned over to Karelian Autonomous SSR which was transformed into Karelian - Finnish SSR and dropped out of the RFSR ; in 1956 it was again transformed into Karelian Autonomous SSR being a part of the RFSR ( at present it is Republic of Karelia).

In October 1944 Touvinian People’s Republic formed a part of the Russian Federation as an autonomous region (at present - Republic of Tyva . In 1945-1946 South Sakhalin and the Kuril islands were given back to Russia, it received as well the town of Kenigsberg (now Kalinigrad) with the adjacent territories. In 1954 Crimean region was turned over to Ukraine.

Now the Russian Federation comprises 89 administrative and territorial units - subjects of the Federation (Called regions further). These are 21 republics, 6 krays ( territories) , 49 oblast’ (regions), 1 autonomous oblast ‘ (region), 10 autonomous okrugs (areas) and 2 cities of Federal subordination (Moscow and Saint Petersburg). They are grouped in the tables of the abstract by 11 economic and geographic regions located in succession from North- West to South- East.

All data for the Russian Federation are presented in the abstract within its contemporary borders. Not many exceptions for the lack of comparable data or for the reason of their unreliability are explained in each case in the notes to the tables.

Data on births and deaths by regions since 1960 are given in the abstract within contemporary borders of each of them; data on migration are presented within the borders of the regions as of the corresponding years.

Certain incomparability of the data is possible because of the differences in the methodology of accounting, its programmes as well as programmes of statistical development of accounting materials and for the reason of changes in legislation.

Thus, during the reference period the criteria of treating populated areas as urban or rural were changed several times. They have finally become firmly established only after the 1959 census. It should be added here that on the eve of both 1937-1939 censuses, the results of which were supposed to illustrate the successes of industrialization, many rural populated areas were urgently transformed into the urban settlements.

Break down of the population into urban and rural is made in the abstract in accordance with the criteria existing at the moment of each census.

Another source of incomplete comparability may be differences in population categories. There are two categories of population in statistics - de-facto (present) and de-juro (resident) population. De facto population covers persons being present on the given territory at the moment of the census including temporary residents. De-juro population covers permanent residents of the given territory including those temporarily absent at the moment of the census.

In different years the indicators were calculated for different categories of population and this is mentioned in the explanatory notes for the tables.

Eventually programmes of accounting and processing as well as the order of collected data grouping were changed.

For that reason, in particular, comparable time series on population distribution by marital status are not available. Four categories of marital status (never married, married, widowed, divorced and separated) were employed in the enumeration and data processing of only 1926, 1979 and 1989 censuses; during the censuses of 1937, 1939, 1959 and 1970 there were accounted only two categories: married and not married at the moment of the census.

Other reasons of incomparability, where it is known, are specified in the explanatory notes for the tables.

During the period between the population censuses data of current accounting inevitably accumulate errors. That is why after a regular census some indicators - current estimates of population numbers and data on numbers of births and deaths (as well as crude birth and death rates) for the years after the previous census are recalculated to enable reconciliation of all the components of changes in population numbers and age - sex composition during that period.

Apart from that, since 1959 in cases of change of borders of any region, its main demographic indicators were recalculated in each case of change and within new borders of the region. Due to these reasons the figures presented in the abstract differ in some cases from those published before.