Official Censuses of Population

between 1859 and 1990

On the 12th of July, Alexandru Ioan Cuza signed The Ordinance no. 276 on setting up the Central Office of Administrative Statistics, this representing the foundation of the official statistics in Romania.

At that time, In Bucharest existed The Central Statistics Office of the Romanian Country led by Dionisie Pop Martian, and in Iassy, The department of Statistics of Moldavia led by Ion Ionescu de la Brad.

In the same year, they conducted The Population Census of 1859-1860, the first investigation of this kind concerned both with the demographic issues and also with the economic and social ones, at the same time, in the two united provinces.

In 1862, Dionisie Pop Martian was appointed director of the recently established institution, The Statistic Office of the United principalities, cu located in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania.

The working methodology and the recorded indexes differed from one province to another , Dionisie Pop Martian, in Bucharest, and Ion Ionescu de la Brad, in Iassy, having different opinions concerning their work .Nevertheless , beside the technical issues, both of them held the same concept regarding the principles and objectives of statistics, its place in the system of public institutions and mission supporting the social program in Romania where, for the first time of centuries of expectation , finally appeared the conditions for the unitary and dynamic development , as the prosperity premises for all the citizens of this united country.

In this vast activity, these two pioneers of the Romanian official statistics contributed each in his turn, the larger vision and European experience specific of the scientific education of Dionisie Pop Martian being made complete by the good knowledge of the territorial realities in the country held by Ion Ionescu de la Brad.

Thus, without having agreed officially on the way to conduct the census, this carried out an observation program very much similar in the two principalities.

And although the census was conducted under difficult circumstances caused by the very scarce financial means and a very small number of enumerators trained appropriately („the 500 de intelligent people” as called by Dionisie Pop Martian), the activities of the census would be successfully completed, and the results would be made public on the 25th of June, 1860, for Muntenia, and in the summer of 1961 for Moldavia . The offered outstanding information to the government of Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza concerning the population, by sex, civil status, age and disabilities , and by nationality and religion, by social categories and background, by professions a.s.o., distributed on counties, wards and towns.

It is important to point out that, In Bucharest, The Census was presented to the Minister of Interior by the person who directed the census, Dionisie Pop Martian, in Iassy this duty was carried out by the new chief of the Statistics Department , respectively Costache Negruzzi, one of the most representatives personalities of the Romanian culture of the 19th century.

Having confirmed the scientific value and mostly, the practical usefulness of the census conducted in 1859-1860, in spite of its understandable limitations and în ciuda inerentelor sale limite si imperfections, Mihail Kogalniceanu will initiate, in 1880, a project for conducting another census.

It is interesting that in the Letter of intent addressed to the Assembly of Deputies of , this outstanding political personality refers to the decition of the International Statistics Congress where, together with the other civilized countries, Romania had taken the duty to conduct, uniformly, in order to facilitate the comparison possibility”, a population census „and its regulations

were approved by our government”.

This is an important fact, since far from being a mere „discovery” of our times, the European vocation of the Romanian statistics has strong roots, The independent Romania being naturally enrolled in the system of the Europe of that time which tried the free from the ghosts of despotism and oppression.



The census of 1880 could not be organized, nevertheless since 1884 they will conduct, every 5 years, fiscal censuses , the census of 1899 being turned by Leonida Colescu – another outstanding personality of the Romanian official statistics – into a population census.

A remarcable census by the volume and quality of the data collected and processed , its results being published in 1905, it complies with the vision of Leonida Colescu about the plate and role of the demographic research in the establishment of the governing policies of a country: „This is a necessary and useful activity since the exact knowledge of the population number facilitates each government the duty entrusted to it , namely caring about the improvement of the means of living”.

the improvement of the means of living”.

The Department of General Statistics led by Leonida Colescu conductedthe population census of 1912 starting from two organizational principles: (1) carrying out based on a special law; (2) allocation of resources to stimulate a body of enumerators and statistics inspectors; (3) the obligation to answer and (4) independence towards any recording operations of a fiscal nature, requirements in compliance with the international statistics practice of the time, also valid nowadays .

Mention should be made that although it was conducted under difficult conditions, against the two Balkan Wars , and Romania had participated thereto, the census of 1912 was completed , and provided a solid data bases concerning the population number , the quality and resources thereof, most valuable information considering the first world conflagration was taking shape and Romania could not be avoided. In this circumstances, the census of 1912 became a a form of participation of the official Romanian statistics to the support, by own means of this science , of the war effort for the country’s unification.

Also, since the population census of 1912 included a statistic research on the buildings and dwellingsled to providing a more extensive picture of the country’s real situation, which represented, at that time, one of the first challenges of this kind, even at the international.

We also point out that, together with the final data published about this census, Leonida Colescu published a rich collection of complementary works, which could, on the hand , grant those interested information about specific activity sections, and on the other hand, offer the real image of the studies carried out by the public statistics in our country.

In those years they advanced significantly not only in the demographic field, but also with the researches carried out in all the national statistics branches , which, in a relatively short time reached a coherence and compatibility level characteristic of the best developed European statistics of the time.



- 1918-1945 -

After 12 years from the Great Unification they conducted the census of 1930, the first to be conducted in the United Romania, considered as one of the most modern ones carried out in the world at that time, „an exceptional scientific accomplishment ”, „a grand work, carried out in an objective manner and without any faults”, as characterized by the European press of the time. It introduces an absolute premiere for the statistics of Europe, by the simultaneous recording of the ethnic membership, mother tongue and religion.

The census of 1930 represented an indisputable professional milestone of our modern statistics since it benefitted of the contribution of our best specialists of Romania for the fields engaged in an extensive and outstanding investigation – statisticians, sociologists. jurists, mathematicians etc. They were involved not only with their professional skills, but with total self-abnegation in conducting and mostly interpretation of the resulted data.

Virgil Madgearu, another legendary personality of the Romanian economic research and statistics, turning to good account the information collected on the occasion of the census of 1930, and also other data resulting from the current statistics, initiated in 1932, under the title „The situation of the Romanian Economy”, a series of analyses underlining the importance of dealing, in the same context, of the demographic issues and those concerning the economic development as well, taking into consideration „the close connection existing between the human factor and the economic life”.

When he republished, in 1936, his studies, Virgil Madgearu underlined , in the preface of the first volume, that the merit for dealing with the issues of human resources and the economic ones in a connected manner „goes entirely to the Central institute of Statistics”.

The steady concern supporting this idea, one of the most important of the Romanian official statistics, to „republish some valuable documents for the statistics, today no longer in circulation and which hold a particular importance for the statistic documentation of the Romanian people” as written in 1944, bydr. Sabin Manuila in the preface of one of such works , „The analyses of the results of the general census of the Romanian population of 1899” of a dr. Leonida Colescu, one of the most important personalities of the Romanian statistics of the beginning years of the 20th.

When presenting the new edition of the 45-year old study and praising his brilliant predecessor dr. Sabin Manuila, the director of the Central Institute of Statistics of the 1940s, made several remarks still valid today. They emphasize both the value of the Romanian school of statistics , its sound scientific traditions, and the trust granted to it by the Romanian people.

Thus the recording method used by the Romanian demographic statistics had been so good, that even after four decades the data collected at the census of 1899 were the most accurate exiting in the respective Romanian field.

Then , the population censuses are important, said the same statistician, not only for taking knowledge of the demographic and social structure of the moment, but mostly in order to see the social evolution tendency sanddevelopment speed of a society.

The proof of the capacity of economic and social investigation of the Romanian statistics is that, in 1941, a the General Census of Romania was carried out.

It was a remarkable courage to conduct such extensive activity, which consequently implied the allocation of important financial resources and human resources, an great effort to be supported taking into consideration Romania was at war.

nevertheless the Government found this effort necessary, being convinced that the Romanian statistics can respond, even in that difficult times, with the competence proved so far.

The response confirmed the expectations, by the manner in which The Central Institute of Statistics organized, conducted and finalized the census, providing the authorities with reliable data both concerning the demographic state of the country (of utmost importance for ensuring the mobilization flow for the war), and also concerning the capacity of the economy – mostly of the war industry and agriculture – to sustain an unprecedented military campaign.

The results of this census exceeded undoubtedly by far the issues connected with Romania’s participation to the world conflagration , and even more, since having included the agriculture as well, the general Census of 1941 represented, at the same time, also the first agricultural census , really systematic, carried out in Romania.

THE PERIOD 1945-1990

After 1945, when in Romania they conducted a brutal political change, with dramatic repercussions on the entire economic and social system, and which affected all the government institutions, the Romanian statistics met with a long time period when, in spite of al pressures , made efforts to maintain its credibility , and preserve and honour its working principles, ensuring, as much as possible, the continuity of the data series as to the preceding periods.

In this context they conducted 4 general censuses of the population:

  • The Population census of January, 1948 – the first census to be conducted in the new political system, which recorded the country’s population on the territorial structure existing after World War II. The observation unit was represented by the “household”.
  • The population Census of February, 1956 – had “the family” as observation unit . The results thereof were published in the time period 1959-1961, in 4 volumes of approx. 4300 pages.
  • The Census of Population and Housing of march,1966 – organized in a similar manner with that of 1956.
  • The census of population and Housing of 1977 – included a large range of indexes . The census program and processing system were among the most modern .