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Europe by numbers
Author: Nico Randeraad

This book is a history of an illusion. It is also a history of the dream that preceded the illusion. The book discusses statistics as the field of tension between the scientific claims of neutrality and universality on the one hand and the political and economic reality of the conflicting interests of nation-states on the other. The various paths of state- and nation-building that European countries traversed in the nineteenth century are recognisable in the objectives of government statistics and are reflected in the topics selected for statistical study and in the categories used in the research. Each congress was clearly dominated by the specific interests of the country in which the statisticians convened. The book shows in each case how the organisation of government statistics and national concerns influenced the international agenda. It describes the perceptions, goals and dilemmas of the protagonists and their contact with each other, and in so doing unravels the complex relationships between science, government and society, wherever possible from their point of view. The genesis of international statistics was inspired by a desire for reform. Belgium's pioneering role in the European statistical movement was informed both by its liberal polity and the special status of statistics within it, and by Adolphe Quetelet's key position as an intellectual. The consolidation of the Grand Duchy of Baden, a new medium-sized state in the Rhine Confederation and later in the German Confederation, offered great opportunities for the development of official statistics.

Open Access (free)
Nico Randeraad

initiator of the first international statistical congress, which was held in Brussels in 1853. Around that time, most countries had a statistics office. Some were more or less autonomous, while others were part of a government ministry. This institutional diversity hindered the exchange of data, which was a thorn in the flesh for Quetelet. Originated by learned societies and academies, which had existed for some time at local and national level, the scientific congress was a relatively new form of communication between researchers. As the permanent secretary of the

in States and statistics in the nineteenth century
Open Access (free)
Nico Randeraad

Afterword T he series of international statistical congresses ended somewhat abruptly with the Budapest gathering in 1876. The participants were unwilling to admit that they would not meet again in that context, but it soon became clear that they would have to temper their usual optimism. A tenth congress, should it ever be convened, would have to be based on a different model. That very debate had already played out at recent congresses but without concrete results. The congress expected a great deal of the permanent commission it had established in St

in States and statistics in the nineteenth century
Nico Randeraad

cautious politics of Prime Minister Felix zu Schwarzenberg and his successors re-established the empire among Europe’s great powers. Austria was an obvious choice to host the third international statistical congress. The government was eager to enhance its international standing by demonstrating its ability to facilitate cooperation between the state and science. 60 chap3.indd 60 02/12/2009 12:14:17 Vienna 1857 Under the inspired leadership of Karl von Czoernig, statistics quickly became a valued service in the administrative apparatus of the monarchy. The rapid rise

in States and statistics in the nineteenth century
Nico Randeraad

social change? Though the fifth statistical congress had a strong international orientation, these German issues were an implicit part of the programme. At first, tensions in German and international relations threatened to jeopardise the continuity of the international statistical congresses. A row over a Franco-German trade agreement was used as a pretext for postponing the congress, which had originally been planned for 1862. More serious than the trade conflicts, though, was the domestic political crisis of the spring and summer of 1862, which brought Bismarck to

in States and statistics in the nineteenth century
Nico Randeraad

7 Small gestures in a big world: The Hague 1869 K arl Baedeker’s travel guide to Belgium and Holland said of The Hague that no other Dutch city had so many pretty, broad streets, tall stately homes and large open squares.1 A person who had not visited any other major European city might well think that The Hague was a resplendent place, comparable to the grand capitals of nineteenth-century Europe. But people arriving from Paris, London, St Petersburg, Vienna, Brussels, Rome or Berlin – like the foreign guests of the seventh international statistical congress

in States and statistics in the nineteenth century
Nico Randeraad

8 ‘Sadder and wiser’: St Petersburg 1872 and Budapest 1876 R ussia and Hungary, the hosts of the last two editions of the international statistical congress, worked hard to prepare and execute the task entrusted to them. The St Petersburg congress was probably the most stylish of all the congresses, and that had everything to do with the city itself. In the course of the nineteenth century St Petersburg acquired the qualities of a European capital. Between 1800 and 1850 the population grew from 220,000 to 487,000. By 1869 the city had 550,000 inhabitants and by

in States and statistics in the nineteenth century
Nico Randeraad

6 Unbounded nationalism: Florence 1867 W hen Florence hosted the sixth international statistical congress in the autumn of 1867, the city had been the capital of the newly united Italy for just three years. In 1864 the Italian government – pressured by the French – had decided to relocate the seat of government from Turin to Florence. In exchange, the French army would withdraw from Rome, a promise it reluctantly fulfilled, but not until 1870. In 1864 many suspected or hoped that ‘Firenze Capitale’ would be short-lived. If Rome were ever annexed, the Eternal

in States and statistics in the nineteenth century
Nico Randeraad

statistics with even greater zeal. Quetelet told Dieterici: ‘In the same way that astronomy surveys the celestial bodies and meteorology studies the currents of air, wind and weather, statistics examines the risks that threaten society.’2 Dieterici was completely won over by Quetelet, and he was not the only one. That same week some 150 statisticians from every corner of Europe – ­official government representatives, academics and interested individuals – ­gathered in Brussels to attend the international statistical congress. They shared a passion for statistics (which was

in States and statistics in the nineteenth century
Nico Randeraad

. When the fourth international statistical congress was held in London in 1860, there was no one better suited to opening the proceedings than Prince Albert. Quetelet and the Prince corresponded regularly. In 1859, on behalf of the statistics community Quetelet invited the Prince to attend the forthcoming congress.1 The organisers had apparently intended to convene the congress in the summer of 1859, but the 80 chap4.indd 80 02/12/2009 12:14:37 London 1860 war between Austria and Piedmont made it necessary to postpone. Albert carried the boundless scientific

in States and statistics in the nineteenth century