Thursday, July 25, 2019

Reported Jump in Number of Immigrants to Russia This Year Likely Reflects Undercount Last Year, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 23 – Reports that the number of immigrants increased by 98,000 in the first four months of 2019, 40,900 more than in the same period a year earlier, have led to claims that Russia is again a more attractive magnet for immigration and even that is economy is taking off and people from other countries are now interested in moving there to work.

            But N. Mkrtchyan and Yu. Florinsky, the two specialists at the Russian Academy of Economics and State Service who reported this jump, say it is “anomalous” and likely reflects a significant undercount of immigrants last year when their number was said to be the lowest in a decade (, pp.  15-19).

            There are three main reasons why undercounts are a constant problem in this area in Russia. First, many officials understate the number of immigrants lest they spark xenophobic reactions by the population. Second, there are difficulties in deciding who is to be classed as an immigrant and who is only a visitor.

            And third and most important, the Russian system of monitoring immigration assigns the counting of those it classes as immigrants to one bureaucracy and those it counts as visitors regardless of how long they stay to another. The figures of the two sometimes correspond but often do not.

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