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History Russia's state statistics 1802-1996

Serious shifts occurred in the economic, political and cultural life of Russia in the 60-70ies of the XVIIIth century. During the reign of Catherine the Second (1762-1796), the time of "the enlightened absolutism" set in. The system of landlords and serfs did not yet impede the growth of productive forces, the industries and trade were moving with long strides, and by the end of the XVIIIth century capitalist relations started to emerge.
          The state's economic policy changed considerably, and it was reflected in the revitalization of free entrepreneurship. In this connection, the entire system of state government was reorganized: the economic Collegiums (boards) were liquidated in the 70ies, and the Gubernia (Provincial) Reform was carried out in 1775, which resulted in the provincial administration becoming the centre of the state government and the Senate getting transformed from the country's supreme governing institution into a judicial body.
          Naturally, all this influenced the nature of Russian statistics at that time, produced certain changes in its functions, organization and methods of work. There were revealed certain features of a tool of social cognition. There appeared a new type of statistical work intended not for meeting narrow day-to-day requirements but for obtaining diversified statistical data on the state of socio-economic life, the so-called cognitive statistics.
          Effective 1764, there were carried out in Russia several unique statistical works which served as a basis for the consecutive development of statistical practice and formation of Russian statistical science. The most significant of them were: the general inventory of Malorossiya; the general land-surveying and the topographic description of the gubernias (provinces) that included minor descriptions of the country's individual areas with their historical, geographical, administrative and economic characteristics.
          Changes in the structure of state government were caused by the necessity to implement new tasks of Russia's economic and social development. The pressing demand for accumulation of registration and statistical data, for their study and comprehension, for improvement in the methods of organization and conduct of surveys, this very demand greatly contributed to the emergence of new scientific statistical developments.
          The first statistical and economic review of Russia was prepared by Ivan (Kirillovich) Kirilov (1689-1737), the Senate Secretary, the author of a unique historical, ethnographic and economic atlas of Russia (1734) which was in use for about 50 years. In his book entitled "The Blooming Condition of the All-Russian State to Which it was Brought by Peter the Great, the Father of the Land, the Emperor and the Autocrat, et cetera, et cetera", that was completed in 1727, he made a wide use of the statistical data coming to the Senate and represented in tabular form, as well as summarized indicators. He also used the results of the "podvomy" (household) census of 1710 and the first inspection of 1718, but the problem of how to better organize such inspections was not raised by the author at that time. This was done by Vassily (Nikitich) Tatischev (1686-1750), the manager of state-owned plants in the Urals, the founder of Ekaterinburg (1723). He was also the author of the first in Russia scientific work on the registration of population "The Discourse on the Head-by-Head Inspection" (written in 1747 and published only in 1861). The main ideas put forward by Tatischev - the establishment of a single census form, the reduction of the census-taking time-period, the upgrading of the census-takers' qualifications - ultimately found their embodiment in statiustical practice.
          In the 60ies, Tatischev's ideas were continued by M.V.Lomonosov and other scientists of that time. Mikhail (Vassilievich) Lomonosov (1711-1765) organized in 1760 "The Academic Enquette" with 30 questions for collection of statistical data characterizing some specific districts in Russia and the country as a whole.
          Almost at the same time, a second questionnaire, similar to the "academic" form, was organized by Fedor (Mikhailovich) Miller (1705-1783). The questionnaire, named "Economic Questions" (65 questions, mainly agricultural in nature), was sent out to provinciial governors, other officials, and to some private persons.
          All the questionnaires were important from the viewpoint of statistical development in the provinces, and also because they produced the awareness of the possibility of using statistics for better scientific knowledge. The questionnaires as such (their contents and the wording of the questions) became a sort of a basis for formation of economic statistics.
          The development of domestic statistics also promoted by Alexander (Nikolayevich) Radischev (1749-1802), the Russian writer. He set forth his views of statistics in his works: "A Letter about the Chinese Market" (1794), "The Description of My Estate" (1799), "On the Statute" (1802). In the main, he followed the traditions of the descriptive school, but, along with the "political arithmetics", applied indirect calculations: he computed the income of Russia's population, its monetary and commodity share, etc. He outlined a programme of agricultural, economic, foreign trade, demographic and judicial statistics.
          Not only the branch dealing with state affairs was represented in statistics, but the political and arithmetical trends as well.
          Wolfgang Ludvig Kraft (1743-1814), a Russian Academician since 1771, in his works formulated full requirements for this branch of statistics: he worked out the indicators of fertility and mortality, derived a formula for calculation of the period of growth, in particular, for doubling the number of inhabitants.
          It can be stated that statistics in the XVIIIth century from the study of descriptions of distinctive features peculiar to the state passed over to a detailed analysis of the public processes, a close research of the regularities governing their development.
          The successful development of Russian statistics in the second half of the XVIIIth century was suspended due to the reaction intensified during the reign of Pavel the First (1796-1801). However, the beginning of the XIXth century, the first years of the rule of Alexander the First (1801-1825) were marked by liberal ideas sprouting in the socio-economic life of Russia, large-scale reforms touching on the system of government. The transition to the state management by economic branch and creation of ministries should be regarded as the most significant of all the reforms.
          The Royal Manifesto of the 8th of September, 1802 ("The St.Petersburg Journal" No.1, 1804) commanded that each Minister at the end of the year should submit to His Imperial Majesty through the Governing Senate a written report concerning the functioning of all the departments entrusted to him. Together with the new organization of the government, there was changed the system of statistical works. The reporting from gubernias (provinces) was restored.
          In fact, the history of Russia's administrative-and-statistical agencies can be started from 8th of September, 1802.
          The circular letter by Count V.P. Kochubei, Minister of the Interior, dated September 19, 1802, gives instructions to the governors on submission of reports containing data on the number of population, collection of taxes and duties, growth of cereals, establishment of village shops and supply of the people with provisions, management of factories and plants, income- earning by the cities, maintenance of public buildings. The reports were received rather punctually, but their accuracy was not high enough, which was admitted by the organizers of the reporting system themselves, in particular by the Ministry of the Interior.
          Thus, the following was said about a code of statistical reports based on the materials of 1802: " ... the difficulty and unusuainess of this enterprise and the lack of many data in their original places was the cause of the situation when the accuracy and perfection of such work still leave much to be desired. Notwithstanding this, the first experience gives a substantial hope that, provided the things are explained in detail, comments on the shortcomings committed for the first time are taken into account, the questions are clearly worded and supplemented by fables, and the executives work with diligence, it would be possible to achieve in this information more accuracy and uniformity and thus to approach their targets more closely".
          On November 1, 1802, there was established at the Department of General Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, the Estate of the Noblemen including 10 persons who were entrusted with the processing of information coming from the provinces. In 1810 this group was transferred to the Ministry of Police.
          On March 20, 1811, there was set up at the Ministry of Police the Statistical Section. It was headed by Academician Karl (Fedorovich) Germann (Minister of Police's Circular No. 168. dated 20.03.1811).
          On November 4. 1819, the Statistical Section was attached, at its full strength, to the Chancery of the Ministry of the Interior.
          Besides the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Police, statistical work was carried out by other Ministries and agencies. Among them, the most important work was conducted by the Main Department of the Ministry of Railways (data on transportation by inland waterways). Ministry of Commerce (statistics of foreign trade) and the Ministry of Finance (statistics of mining industry), etc.
          The materials of government statistics were widely published. In 1803 there was issued by the Ministry of Commerce the statistical compendium "State Trade of 1802 in its Various Forms". Further on, similar compendiums were published annually, first by the Ministry of Commerce and then, upon its liquidation, by the Ministry of Finance. In 1806 there was published the statistical compendium of the Ministry of Finance "Tables to the Minister of the Interior's report for 1804". On November 29,1819, there was discussed at the meeting of the Committee of Ministers the question of publishing the Statistical Journal and other statistical editions.
          On May 12, 1823, the Statistical Section became part of the Department of Executive Police of the Ministry of the Interior.
          For the first time in 1825, the Statistical Section compiled the "Roll of the Work Performed" for the period of 1811 through 1825 (the Letter No.18. dated 7.10.1825, of the Statistical Section, Ministry of the Interior).
          Essential changes in the development of Russian state statistics were outlined by the mid-30ies of the XIX century when the needs of the state forced the government to get down to the organization of statistical work.
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