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The 1990 Population Censuses in East and South-East Europe

by Franz Rothenbacher

This contribution deals with the censuses of population (often at the same time censuses of buildings, housing and agricultural enterprises) which were carried out around 1990 in the east and south-east European transition countries.

When the former Soviet Union still existed the last population census was held in 1989. As was the case with preceding censuses, the results of the 1989 census were published for the whole territory and are available in printed form in Russian. The 1989 census is the first Soviet census which is also distributed on microfiche and on diskette (by East View Publications (USA)). The microfiche edition is supplemented by a bilingual Russian/English „companion guide“ leading through the twelve volumes of the all-union population census. Some successor states of the former Soviet Union have published additional results separately: Estonia also analysed and published - together with the Estonian results of the 1989 census - the results of the Estonian parts of the all-union censuses of 1959, 1970 and 1979 in a 2-volume bilingual edition (Estonian/English). In the past, data from the older censuses were available for a wider public in publications covering the whole Soviet Union only.

Lithuania published its country results in 1991 in three volumes in Lithuanian. These contain comparisons with the 1979 census and partly go back to the census of 1959.

In Albania, the population census of 1989 was the first one to be published in English and according to international recommendations. This publication was produced in 1991 with technical support from the United Nations Statistical Division (UNSTAT). This census publication improved the supply of statistical data tremendously.

In Hungary, a population census was held in 1990. As the previous censuses, it was carried out in the first year of the decade. The comprehensive publication covering the census comprises all in all 27 volumes. The first three volumes deal with „preliminary data“ (vol.1), „summary data on a 2% sample“ (vol.2) and „summary data“ (full analysis) (vol.3). Volumes 4-23 contain data on all of the 19 counties. In addition, there exist a number of thematic volumes on „households and families“ (24), „economic activity“ (25), „demographic structures“ (27) and „active earners“. The analysis of the 1990 census paved the way for the analysis and publication of some of the historical censuses. Thus, the results of the censuses of 1850 and 1857 were published in a modern form. Another 2-volume edition dealing with the history of the Hungarian censuses from 1869-1990 documents the methods of data collection and the assessed resp. published variables. With the exception of volumes 2 and 3, which have been translated into English, all titles are available in Hungarian only. But the translation of the tables of contents into English is very helpful for the user.

Bulgaria carried out its most recent census in 1992, the previous one being organized in 1985. The publications programme consists of eight national thematic volumes on „demographic characteristics of the population“ (vol.1), „socio-economic characteristics of the population“ (vol.2), „population by districts, municipalities and settlements“ (vol.3), „households“ (vol. 4), „families“ (vol.5), „internal migration“ (vol.6), „invalids“ (vol.7) and „graduates from higher, college, general and vocational education“ (vol.8). Another series of titles deals with data from the housing census. Volume 1 of this series presents „basic characteristics of housing fund“, volume 2 „living conditions of the population“, volume 3 „the country’s housing fund“. Moreover, a series of regional publications exists: a volume on the housing stock and the living conditions of the population is published for each of the nine districts. The data are presented on the levels of regions, municipalities and settlements. Another regional series consists of 28 volumes - one for each region - and contains data on „demographic and socio-economic characteristics and housing fund by municipalities and settlements“. All these titles are published in Bulgarian only. Selected results regarding the status of the population and housing stock are presented in a publication which is available in English and French. Compared to the census of 1985, the publishing programme has been extended enormously.

The population census of 1991 in former Czechoslovakia was carried out when the country was still united. As in earlier censuses, the results have been published for the three levels of the federation and both federal states separately. Due to the separation of the country into the now independent states of the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic, most of the published volumes refer to the successor states only. The publications programme has significantly grown in volume. With the exception of a small number of titles, the bulk of the edition is published in the native language.

In Poland, following the 1978 census which was held ahead of schedule, the eighth census since 1918 was carried out as early as 1988. This census is the most comprehensive one to date. The data collection covers the socio-demographic structure of the population, households and families, and buildings and dwellings. The results have been published in a large number of tabular volumes. All titles are in Polish, with the exception of some tables of contents that have been translated into English. In addition, many volumes include a historical-comparative perspective referring to the census of 1978. By the end of 1994, 18 volumes had been published.

Romania carried out its most recent census in 1992, that is after the revolution, with the previous one being organized in 1977. The publications covering the census include some titles with preliminary data and data analysis based on samples. An English volume presents „General Results“; these data were collected according to the „Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses“ of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. The other three volumes contain detailed results according to national classifications, all of them in Romanian. Volume 1 presents data on „population and demography“, volume 2 the „socio-economic structure of the population“, and volume 3 deals with data on „buildings, dwellings and households“. One feature of Romanian statistics is that they are strongly oriented towards international and western standards and that they have an extended programme of data presentation.

In the former Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia (FSRJ), the most recent census was held in 1991, following the previous one of 1981. Planning and preparation of this census was still in the tradition of Yugoslav censuses. The division of the country into several independent countries influenced the publication of the results. In most of the now independent states the statistical systems have been modernized and are oriented to western models. This becomes evident not only if one looks at the design of the publications, but also - and this is more important - if one considers the statistical concepts used and the type of data published. Another sign is the bilingualism (native language/English), which is now to be found regularly in the Statistical Yearbooks.

In Slovenia, the results of the „Census of population, households, housing and agricultural holdings“ of 1991 have been published in larger volumes („Results of Surveys“) and numerous bulletins (the series „Statistical information“). While the bulletin series is still in Slovenian, the main volumes are published bilingually in Slovenian/English. The first main volume (Results of surveys, no. 617/1994) gives a historical and methodological introduction going back to the first census of 1921 and includes an inventory of assessed items. Some data go back to the first Austrian census carried out in 1857 in the later territory of Slovenia.

In Croatia, the results of the census of 1991 have been published in a series of comprehensive volumes. Each of these volumes deals with a special topic and presents data for each settlement in Croatia. The publications are all issued in Croatian but an English table of contents is included in some cases. So far, a number of volumes have been published, covering the ethnical composition of the population (documentation no. 881, 1992), age and sex (no. 882, 1994), religion and mother tongue (no. 883, 1994), educational status, literacy and sex (no. 884, 1994), economic activity of the domestic population (no. 885, 1994), agricultural population by activity status and sex (no. 886, 1994), households and families (no. 887, 1994), dwellings (no. 888, 1994) and usable dwellings and their equipment (no. 895, 1994).

In the Republic of Macedonia, the definitive results of the census of 1991 were published in the series „Statistical Review“ in seven volumes. In this main series of Macedonian statistics the results of the censuses of 1981, 1971, 1961 und 1948 were published. The publication of the results for 1991 continues this tradition. As yet, all titles are in Macedonian. Volume number 226 contains „basic data on the population of municipalities“, no.228 „economic activity“, no.230 „workers by social characteristics“, no.232 „citizens living abroad“, no.237 „demographic, educational and economic characteristics of the population“, no.240 „citizens working abroad“ and no.241 „immigrants“. These volumes are supplemented by others providing preliminary figures. It is characteristic for the situation in the former Yugoslavia that Macedonia carried out another population census as early as June 1994.

In the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SRJ) (Serbia and Montenegro), the results of the population census were published by the Federal Statistical Office in several series. As early as 1991 four volumes with classifications and nomenclatures for the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia were published. However, the published factual data refer to Yugoslavia in its present borders only. Population figures have been published in seven volumes; apart from these, three volumes on agricultural enterprises and - so far - two volumes on the dwelling stock have been issued. The seven volumes on the population deal with population structure, households and families, the ethnic composition of the population, age and sex and economic activity. All these data are available down to the level of settlements.

If one looks at common developments in east European transition economies one can see that in some countries the population censuses were planned and carried out prior to the transition phase; the results, however, were published during the phase of transition. This is the case with Poland (1988), the former Soviet Union (1989), Albania (1989) and Hungary (1990). In these countries, the transition influenced both data analysis and the publication of results. Central trends are now a growing bilingualism (native language/English; in the inter-war period. French was still the lingua franca in these countries), a general modernisation of the statistical systems, the improvement of visual presentation and the analysis of as yet unpublished material - especially in a historical perspective.

Those countries which carried out censuses even after the beginning of their transition must be separated from this group: Romania (1992) and Bulgaria (1992). The Czech and the Slovak Republic are special cases. The structure of the census of 1991 still followed the national pattern, but the dissolution of the former Czechoslovakia brought new demands with it. The census of 1991 in the former Yugoslavia is also a special case due to political developments. The former Federal Statistical Office began to analyse the data; after the breakdown, however, the former federal states analysed and published the results independently. But this does not constitute a historical change: the preceding censuses of 1981 and before were - in addition to the Federal results - analysed and published separately. What is new, however, is a noticeable modernisation of statistics and an orientiation to international standards.


Dr. Franz Rothenbacher
MZES-EURODATA, D-68131 Mannheim

Phone: +49-621-292 1738
Fax: +49-621-2928435

EURODATA Newsletter No.2, p.19-20