The 2010 census is underway in Russia, and experts expect that the results will show the population is smaller than it was during the last count, in 2002. That census counted 145 million people; estimates for the current total are about 140 million to 142 million. The decline has been attributed to a combination of diminished migration, ill health and low birth rates (although government statistics indicate recent upticks in fertility). The census nearly was canceled because of cost considerations.
One challenge for the census is to have a correct count of the estimated 20% of the population who are ethnic minorities. The federal statistics service offers 1,840 possible categories for residents to choose from. To persuade Russians to cooperate with census-takers, the country’s top leaders posed for photographs with enumerators, and President Dmitry Medvedev recounted his own experiences as a census-taker.