Saturday, January 14, 2023

Russian Census Takers Decided on Their Own Whether to List Nationality of Those They Couldn’t Contact Directly, One of Their Number Says

 Paul Goble

            Staunton, Jan. 11 – One census taker, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that he did not list the nationality of anyone with whom he did not speak, thus following the rules as he understood them; but other enumerators, he said, did not follow that principle and instead decided on the nationality of an individual on the basis of his or her name.

            Thus, in the latter case, someone with a traditionally Korean last name would be listed as a Korean and someone with a traditionally Russian one would be listed as Russian, a practice that means that the actual numbers of people in this or that nationality are almost certainly different than those reported (

            As the anonymous census taker points out, “it is impossible to distinguish the majority of Maris from Russians by first and last names and Russian women who have taken the last names of their Muslim husband could be counted [also incorrectly] within this or that primarily Muslim nationality.”

            How widespread this practice was remains unknown, but its existence will provide yet another reason for those who argue that the current Russian census is inaccurate to such a degree that it should not be used to make policy decisions or predictions about the future growth or decline of this or that nationality.

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