Censuses, Elections and Population: the Case of Macedonia

By Youssef Courbage, Ronald Wilkens


Despite the small size of the population, the question of numbers is important in Macedonia. Censuses were carried out in 1994 and in 2002, the results from the former having been disputed, notably by the main minority, the Albanians. In this article, the quality of the 1994 Census results is tested against several other sources. First, the structures by ethnic group, age and sex from the 1971 Census, held during the Yugoslav period, are projected to 1994 using the cohort components method and compared with those obtained in the 1994 Census. The detailed results of the 2002 elections are then used to estimate the composition of the electorate (population aged 18 and over) under various hypotheses regarding the electoral turnout rates of different ethnic groups and the transfer of votes from the small minorities (Turks, Roma, Bosnians, etc.) to the Albanian or Macedonian parties. These two simulations, effected on the total population (resident in Macedonia or abroad), show the 1994 Census results to be on the whole satisfactory. In addition, natural increase (births minus deaths) between 1994 and 2002 is used to estimate the population of Macedonia by ethnic groups in 2002, before publication of the results from the 2002 Census. Finally, the growth projections for the ethnic groups are examined in the light of fertility differences and the proportion of young people in the age structures of the various populations.

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