Monday, January 23, 2023

By Statistical Sleight of Hand, Homelessness in Russia Falls More than 80 Percent Since 2010

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 19 – The number of homeless in Russia fell from 64,077 in 2010 to 11,285 in 2021, Rosstat reports, a decline of more than 80 percent made possible by not counting as homeless those in shelters or in self-made structures of any kind (

            Counting the number of people without housing is notoriously difficult and was especially so in Russia during the pandemic; and what is most striking is that the reported census figure is nearly identical to Russian estimates at the end of 2021 (

            At that time, experts argued that there were at least 1.5 million homeless in the Russian Federation, with some suggesting that the real figure approached eight million – or more than one in every 20 Russians in all (

            Historically, Russian officials have lowballed the numbers to avoid taking responsibility and so that Russian businesses can exploit the homeless, reducing many of them to something resembling virtual slavery  that businesses can exploit the homeless, often reducing them to the position of virtual slavery (

            They have also done so because of longstanding public opposition to the opening of any refuges for the homeless at least in major cities, and so at present there seem few prospects that the country will address a problem that most people prefer to ignore (

            But Yaroslav Ignatorsky, the head of Moscow’s Politgen Analytic Center, says that the problem within Russia is now growing so fast and that the international attention this situation is attracting is increasing as well that Moscow may soon have no choice but to begin to address it (

            “The launch of government programs for liquidating the problems of the homeless, such as resetting them in empty houses or creating special workplaces for them is already both an economic issue and a matter of prestige, the analyst suggested when the 2021 estimates were announced. If Moscow does nothing, it could suffer a social explosion.

            The new census figures will only add to such pressures and will also have the effect of calling into question ever more of the data Rosstat is now reporting about other measures of the population as well.

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