Governing by the numbers

Walter Radermacher (2020)

Statistical Journal of the IAOS 36(2), pp. 341-342.

Excerpt. «Learning from the pandemic: In the current crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we are learning again – and this time in a hard way –, that sound statistics are vital for the functioning of states, for the participation of citizens in political decision-making and (ultimately) for the form of governance itself. In quieter times we are little aware of the fact that official statistics continuously change and develop, although normally very slowly, and when it takes place (exceptionally) in larger leaps, that three forces drive this development: political events, scientific progress and new data sources. Alain Desrosières has worked out in detail the interrelation between the state and statistics; with him one could even speak of statistics for ‘the making of the state’. To understand when and for what reasons this interrelation went well or not, what were the developmental phases, what problems were associated with them, it is therefore important to be aware of the history of the development of official statistics.» (p. 341)

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