Lars Behrisch: Statistics and Politics in the 18th Century [Abstract]
The article first gives an overview over the early history of statistics in politics, and then zooms in on the first attempts at establishing a nationwide agrarian statistics in pre-revolutionary France. Attention is given to the obstacles as well as to the long-term successes in standardizing and quantifying agrarian productivity. The corresponding learning experience, both in terms of concepts and practice, was a condition for the institutionalization of statistics in the early nineteenth century. It had its roots in the secular-utilitarian agenda of “enlightened absolutism” and its focus on a systematic and state-sponsored relaunch of the national economy.