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Making It CountStatistics and Statecraft in the Early People’s Republic of China$
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Arunabh Ghosh

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691179476

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691179476.001.0001

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The Nature of Statistical Work

The Nature of Statistical Work

(p.127) 5 The Nature of Statistical Work
Making It Count

Arunabh Ghosh

Princeton University Press

This chapter draws upon statistical reports generated from all levels of the statistical system—internal work bulletins, and materials from conferences at the local, provincial, and national levels—to uncover the messiness of actual statistical work and its relationship to planning. It captures not only the centralizing impetus of the expansion but also the varieties of challenges that were encountered in putting into practice the methods that were at the heart of socialist statistics: the periodic reporting system, and the various forms of typical sampling. Statistical work was carried out within the larger unfolding context of increasing complexity, changing (economic) focus, and struggles over administrative devolution. As work became more complicated and demanding, engagement with and discussions about statistical activities grew more sophisticated—methods were expanded, analyses were undertaken, and the results of such analyses were circulated among leaders and bureaucrats. However, a key problem remained—the system that had been set up incentivized the overproduction of reports, and the state had little or no capacity to handle the resultant excess reports.

Keywords:   statistical reports, periodic reporting system, typical sampling, administrative devolution, overproduction, excess reports

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