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History Russia's state statistics 1802-1996

 By the end of the 30ies there could be seen signs of a new rise of statistics which, by mid-40ies, had become an undeniable fact: the system of government statistics was getting improved, it was carrying a vast volume of work, the number and quality of the statistic and economic research and publications were increasing, and the public interest to statistics was being revived.
          In 1834 a special Statistical section was established at the Council of the Ministry of the Interior (Full Code of Laws of the Russian Empire, Collection 2, Volume 9, Section 2). According to the Rules of the Statistical Section under the Council of the Ministry of the Interior, approved on 20.12.1834, the purpose of its establishment was the preparation of detailed and, as far as possible, accurate descriptions of the functioning of all the units subordinate to the Ministry of the Interior. In addition, it was entrusted with the preliminary examination of newly submitted plans of cities and towns, proposals for new subdivision of gubernias (provinces) and uyezds (districts), assumptions as to the urban incomes and expenditures, and consideration of economic aspects of projects for construction of buildings to come under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of the Interior.
          The statistical work commissioned to the Chancery of the Statistical Section was based on the data received from the Ministry's departments and from the Governors of the provinces. It was stipulated by the Rules that every statistical work should be preceded by a historical review of the former state of the unit described, to be compared with its present state. Whenever necessary, the text was supplemented by tables.
          At the same time, in all the provincial centres there were established statistical committees presided by civil governors and supervised by Governors-General. The provincial statistical committee collected data, checked them, brought into uniform order, entered them in the tables, according to the forms received from the Statistical Council of the Ministry, or compiled from these data accurate descriptions of the province as a whole, or of some individual branches of its economy, industry and trade.
          The committees opened slowly, and by 1853 they had been formed in 33 out of 49 provinces in the European part of Russia.
          In 1837 there was determined and put into final shape the system of annual reporting by gubernias (provinces). The former terms of reference were extended, but the socio-economic statistics was excluded from the main report on the state of provinces. And only in 1842 the Ministry of the Interior considerably expanded the programme of statistical reporting from the provinces, introducing there data on the most important areas of economic life (population, agriculture, industry, trade, etc.).
          The approved sample of the annual report, with an annex consisting of 27 tables, was sent out to all the provincial chiefs (The letter of the Department of General Affairs, Ministry of the Interior, No. 1514, dated 07.03.1843).
          Since 1847, there was set up at the Ministry of the Interior the Interim Committee for the "lustration" of landlords' estates in the Western Kraj (territory). This lustration should consist in preparing an accurate economic description of every estate, measuring and classifying the lands, appraising them, etc. The Committee experienced difficulties due to the lack of technical personnel and funds. It was suggested that the work on the lustration of the landlords' estates should be combined with other statistical work conducted at the Ministry.
          On December 22, 1852, on a Royal command, the Interim Lustration Committee and the Statistical Section of the Council at the Ministry of the Interior were superceded by the Statistical Committee under the direct supervision and guidance of the Minister of the Interior (Full Code of Laws of the Russian Empire, Collection 2, Volume 27, Section 1).
          On March 4, 1858, the Statistical Committee was reorganized into the Central Statistical Committee (Full Code of Laws of the Russian Empire, Collection 2, Volume 33, Section 1). According to the work entrusted to it, the Committee was subdivided into two divisions: the Statistical and the Zemstvo. The tasks of the Statistical Division included collection, critical checking, bringing into order and processing of statistical data for all the branches of government control, and publication of its transactions. The Zemstvo Division was engaged in preliminary discussion and processing of all the matters related to the zemstvo and economic arrangements.
          The Central Statistical Committee was granted the right to demand statistical materials on subject-matters included in its terms of reference, not only from the Departments of the Ministry of the Interior but also from other highest Departments. All the provincial statistical committees were subordinated to the Central Statistical Committee, and it had to produce respective manuals and guides to be used for obtaining the required data and checking on the work performed.
          The organization of government statistics in Russia at that time was, undoubtedly, a step forward in comparison with the one in existence at the beginning of the XIXth century.
          During the 50ies, the Ministry of the Interior carried out a number of specialized statistical works that, in a degree, were the prerequisite of the reform of 1861. By their nature, these works could be subdivided into three groups: investigations characterizing the serf population of Russia, elaboration of data dealing with land prices; studies of the landlord property rights, the land tenure, serfs' duties and services, and the landlords' outstanding debts.
          In 1852 there was published a compendium of data in the country as a whole, based on reports from the provinces: "Statistical Tables According to the Data for 1849". Some elaborated data on the landlords' land property rights were published in 1860 under the title of "Supplement to the Transactions of the Editorial Commissions for Compilation of Regulations Concerning Peasants Released from Bondage". Works on statistics of towns were published in two fundamental statistical editions: a double- volume compendium "Social Order and Economy of Towns" (1859) and a multi- volume edition "Urban Settlements in Russia" (started in 1859 and completed already in post-reform years).
          A number of vast statistical investigations conducted in the 40-50ies served as a stimulus for further development of statistical science. Russian scientists-statisticians of that time advanced considerably in determining the relations of statistics with scientists studying public life. They clearly pointed out:
          - the existing integral relation of statistics with sciences studying public life (N.I. Nadezhdin "Scope and Routine of Viewing People's Wealth Constituting the Subject of Economic Statistics", 1845);
          - the necessity for statistics to base on the conclusions of social sciences examining the specific sphere of life studied by a statistician (D.A. Milutin "A Critical Study of the Importance of Military Geography and War Statistics", St.Petersburg, 1846);
          - the great significance of statistics as a means of substantiating the conclusions of social sciences and ensuring their further development (D.A. Milutin - the above-mentioned work).
          A number of scientists (K.F. Germann, D.A. Milutin, N.I. Nadezhdin, D.P. Zhuravsky, and others) even at that time revealed the contents of the theory of statistics as a science on statistical methodology; they understood the necessity and saw the directions of immediate solution of problems related to the sources of statistical data, organization of statistical observation, improvement of statistics; they theoretically substantiated the question of the grouping as a category of statistical science and widely used this method for studying socio-economic phenomena; they achieved a serious success in the theory of mean values, dynamic characteristic of processes studied, in the field of statistical study of the interrelationship of signs, etc.
          The final approval and recognition of the political and economic trend in the Russian statistical science was the main historical merit of the Russian statisticians of that period. Theoretical works of the then statisticians served as a reliable foundation for specific statistical studies. But their principal significance consisted in positive influence on the subsequent development of Russian statistics. The ideas of the political and economic tendency were adopted by the progressive representative of governmental statistics of the post-reform years, and with them was connected the success of zemstvo statistics.
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