By Atom Markarian
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian gave Tuesday final instructions to a government commission in charge of the upcoming crucial census of Armenia’s population. The census, which is expected to document the precise number of people living in the country, will take place from October 10-19.
More than 12,000 government employees will visit every household across Armenia to fill out specially designed forms containing 49 questions. Answers to them will not only reveal the size of the population, but also provide other statistical information.
Census officials will also count those Armenian citizens currently living and working abroad based on the information obtained from their relatives.
Hundreds of thousands people have left Armenia since the early 1990s in the face of a collapsing economy and worsening living conditions. Estimates of the scale of the out-migration vary from 600,000 to 1.5 million. Armenia’s population stood at 3.8 million in 1990.
Speaking at a meeting with members of the census commission also attended by representatives of Western donor states and organizations, Markarian said the census will put an end to the “political exploitation” of the problem by his government’s opponents.
A member of the commission, Samvel Nersisian, told RFE/RL that the methodology of the census has already been successfully tested in several local communities. He also urged Armenians to “answer frankly” to all questions they will be asked by visiting census officials.
The important undertaking will cost over $1.7 million and will be mostly funded by the World Bank, the UN, the British government and other donors.