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Demographic Research

The MAPA program’s web maps and analysis related to the Holodomor would not be possible without reliable demographic data. To obtain this information, HURI works with a group of demographers and historians at the Ptoukha Institute of Demography and Social Studies and the Institute of History in Ukraine (Omelian Rudnytskyi, Nataliia Levchuk, Pavlo Shevchuk, and Alla Kovbasiuk) and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the U.S. (Oleh Wolowyna).
More information about the Ptoukha Institute, translated from their website, is presented below.

About the Ptoukha Institute

The Ptoukha Institute for Demography and Social Studies of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences (IDSS) is at the forefront of demographic research of the Great Ukrainian Famine (Holodomor) of 1932–1933. IDSS scholars began collecting data and estimating Holodomor population losses in the late 1980s, well before the IDSS was founded, while working for various other institutions. Their research has relied on a multi-disciplinary approach and is underpinned by a sound scientific methodology. The research results have been discussed at a number of Ukrainian and international conferences and have been published in various domestic and international scholarly journals. The scholars have made a valuable contribution to the hotly debated issue of the number of Holodomor victims.

Key research results:

  • IDSS scholars applied the most appropriate methodology for estimating population losses due to the Holodomor of 1932–1933, i.e., population reconstruction. Their estimates are based on the most complete set of relevant demographic data and the reconstruction of yearly demographic parameters in Ukraine for the period between the 1926 and 1939 censuses. This methodology allowed them to estimate the most plausible figures of population losses due to excess mortality and birth deficit during the 1932–1934 period. Excess mortality in 1932–1934 is estimated to be 3.9 million deaths. Losses among the rural population (3.6 million victims) are much higher than that of the urban population (300 thousand), and 90% of the total losses occurred in 1933. Due to falling birth rates during the Holodomor, Ukraine had a birth deficit of 600 thousand people.

  • IDSS scholars also estimated Ukraine’s population losses due to the Holodomor at oblast (region) and raion (district) levels, according to the administrative-territorial division at the time of the famine. Ukraine was divided into eight regions during 1923-1937: Vinnytsia, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kyiv, Odesa, Kharkiv, Chernihiv oblasts and the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR). According to their estimates, the most affected regions were Kyiv and Kharkiv oblasts; excess mortality for the period of 1932–1934 was 19% to 20% of the total population of these oblasts. Vinnytsia, Dnipropetrovsk and Odesa oblasts and the Moldavian ASSR had losses in the 10% to 13% range. The least affected oblasts were Chernihiv and Donetsk, with losses equivalent to 5% of their populations.

  • IDSS scholars have also estimated population losses caused by the Famine of 1932–1934 in other republics of the USSR. Excess mortality for the whole USSR is 8.7 million deaths. Ukraine ranks first in absolute population losses among all Soviet Republics, while Kazakhstan has the highest rate of famine-related deaths relative to the total population.

  • For the first time, estimates of excess mortality and comparative analyses of population losses in Ukraine and Russia during 1932–1934, were made, both at the republic and regional levels. It was established that:
    • In 1932-34, Ukraine had an estimated 3.9 million excess deaths due to the famine, whereas Russia had 3.3 million. Ukraine had a total mid-year population of 29.6 million in 1933, while Russia had 103.9 million. Thus, Ukraine’s relative direct losses are four times higher than Russia’s: 13.3% of Ukraine’s population died due to the famine, versus 3.2% of Russia’s.
    • There are definitive regional differences in losses in both Ukraine and Russia, and these differences are more pronounced in Russia. Their research has debunked the theory that Ukraine and Russia both suffered equally. The most affected regions in Russia encompass about 6% of its rural population and 1% of its territory, while respective percentages are 41% and 34% in Ukraine. IDSS have also determined important differences between those republics not only in terms of level of famine losses but also in terms of geography. The highest losses in Ukraine were observed in the central forest-steppe regions, neither of which is a major grain-producing area, while in Russia famine affected only its most important grain-producing regions.
  • IDSS scholars made critical evaluations of different methodologies used in estimating the number of Holodomor losses. By using different “what if” scenarios, they have shown that the number of total Holodomor losses cannot exceed 5 million.

  • IDSS scholars also conducted a demographic analysis of the data used in criminal case #475 opened by the Security Services of Ukraine on May 22, 2009, pursuant to an alleged act of genocide committed in Ukraine in 1932–1933, a crime punishable by article 442, part 1 of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The results of this analysis were admitted and cited in the ruling of the Court of Appeals of the city of Kyiv, for the criminal case, with charges of genocide filed on January 13, 2010.

Holodomor: The Real Number of Its Victims and Evidence of Its Man-Made Nature

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