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History Russia's state statistics 1802-1996

The Imperial Manifest of the 8th of September* (September, 20 by new style), 1802 ordered the ministries to collect written statistical reports. Thus, on this day, there emerged the new organization and structural pattern of statistical activities in Russia.
         Radical transformations in the socio-economic life of modem Russia have predetermined the inevitability of reforms in state statistics with a view to adapting it to market economics. The nature of state statistics and the main trends of its development are indissolubly linked with the history of the country, and are in many ways influenced by the targets and means of managing the national economy.
         Russia's state statistics has travelled a long and diverse path of formation and development. Its history has been preconditioned by the peculiarities of the socio-economic structure of Russia, and in the first place, by the longtime persistence of serfdom.
         The change of the economic policy at the end of the XVIIIth century, becoming apparent in the revitalization of free entrepreneurship, influenced the nature of Russian statistics by revealing some features of an instrument of social cognition, and by reflecting, in a broader way, the state of economy and public life. This period was characterized by quite a few important and interesting scientific developments.
         At the beginning of the XIXth century there were carried out major reforms touching upon the system of management.
         Together with the new organization of management, there was changed the system of statistical work and restored the submission of reports by the Gubernias (provinces). After the setting-up in 1811 of a statistical section under the Ministry of Police, a new historical stage emerged in the development of Russian statistics. Up to the early 1860ies, this stage was characterized by the improvement in organization and methodology of state statistical bodies and by the appearance of pro- found statistical studies conducive to the reform of 1861.
         The post-reform period (1861-1917) went down in history as the period of development of government and zemstvo (at a district administrative level) statistics. The vast statistical materials collected and worked out by zemstvo statisticians became a reliable basis for deep investigations of Russia's post-reform economics. Statistical science of this period was renowned for its thorough theoretical documentation, and it played a leading role in elaborating the general concept of mathematical statistics.
         The initial period of Soviet statistics (1917-1930) was noted for its exceptionally intense activities: a great many special statistical censuses and surveys were carried out, the first balance of the national economy was pre- pared. This period was also characterized by pluralism of opinions, concepts, ideas, by critical use of foreign statistical achievements.
         The subsequent development of Soviet statistics was impeded by the creation in the 30ies of an administrative bureaucratic system, by mass repressions affecting, among others, the best economists and statisticians.
         Statistics during this period was engaged in accomplishing operative tasks, appraising the implementation of current plans, at the expense of its neglected analytical functions.
          During the years of the Great Patriotic War, statistics solved huge problems in the line of taking inventory of labour and material resources, controlling the transfer of the productive forces to the Eastern territories of the country. After the war, the role of statistics increased, work on the balance was expanded, the theory of the index method was made more exhaustive, economic and mathematical models and methods were widely disseminated.
         At present, Russia's state statistics solves not only the current problems of catering to the society's demands for information but it also works on a complex of problems with a view to getting better adapted to the market economy. The main directions for reforming the state statistics up to 2000 were expounded by Chairman of Goskomstat of Russia at the All-Russian Conference of Statisticians in November 1995.
          In this edition the authors have made an attempt at presenting, in a concise form, the main landmarks, events and trends of work in the sphere of state statistics in Russia, the most outstanding figures of Russia's statistical science and practice and their role in the development of statistical theory and methodology for improving the organization of state statistics.
         The brief essays on the history of Russia's state statistics have been prepared by a collective body of authors composed of: Mrs I.I. Eliseyeva (a scientific consultant, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences); Mr V.M. Proskuriakov (Head of the Authors' Group); Mr V.I. Uspensky (Deputy Head of the Authors' Group): Mr V.M. Kluchnikov; Mrs V.Ya. Rogovaya; Mr B.G. Sivorinovsky; Mr D.B. Sumkin. Mr V.E. Zelenko did the translation into English.
          In preparing the manuscript, there have been used: the archive reference from the Russian State Historic Archive, compiled by Mr D.I. Raskin, candidate of historical sciences, in charge of a division; genuine historical archive materials (some of their copies are appended hereto); and the book by Mrs I.I. Eliseyeva and Mr B.C. Ploshke entitled "The History of Statistics" ("Finances and Statistics" Publishers, Moscow, 1990).

*This and other subsequent dates are all given according to the calendar style in existence at the moment of publication of the document.
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