The Soviet Population Today

An Analysis of the First Results of the 1959 Census

Courtesy Reuters

FOR Western analysts of Soviet affairs who have at one time or another in the past 20 years suffered from the dearth of official statistical information on the Soviet population, the long-awaited relief has finally begun to appear. On May 10 the Central Statistical Administration of the U.S.S.R. released selected preliminary results from the All-Union Census of Population of January 15, 1959, with the implication that there will be more to come (although how much more is not clear), following the completion of tabulation toward the end of the year.

From the data so far released one fact stands out. Soviet loss of life in World War II was far greater than we had supposed. Indeed the deaths among the male population simply stagger the imagination. Before developing this point, let us glance at the data so far released and discuss briefly their validity.

The preliminary census results show a total population of 208,800,000, together with the following breakdown:

Males 94,000,000 Rural 109,000,000
Females 114,800,000 Urban 99,800,000

In addition, we are given the urban and rural population for each of the 15 republics and their constituent administrative subdivisions (oblasts, krais and okrugs); the number of urban areas of different types, and their population; and the population of cities which are centers of administrative divisions and subdivisions as well as of cities with more than 50,000 persons. Also enumerated by the census, but not reported in the preliminary results, are the categories of age, nationality, language, education, family status, social classification, source of livelihood and occupation by branch of industry.

The 1959 census of population is the seventh planned since the beginning of the Soviet period, the sixth to be carried out in one form or other, and the fifth from which at least selected data have been published. The first All-Union Census of 1920 was conducted under abnormal conditions and the results were consequently incomplete and of generally poor quality. The urban census of 1923 and the All-Union Census of 1926 were published in full. A census was planned for 1932, but never carried out, and a census

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