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Author: Petko Bozhikov


It comes as a leakage on the side of this project, when we have to talk about statistics and its contribution to social science development. Mathematics has made tremendous advances in recent times and since the advent of the computer, it seems impossible to present sound research data without being guarantied by some or other numeric profile. So, we have been at loss for some time in our efforts to give a comprehensive picture on the state of affairs in the field of statistical reasoning with particular reference for the development of the modern state of Bulgaria. Finally it is our privilege to begin with the historical roots and gradually to expand on methods and aspects of this very difficult branch of knowledge. We are not very optimistic on the achievement of fruitful endpoints, but let us remind a phrase from the greatest manager of XXth. century Henry Ford - viz., he remarked something like that, "It doesn't matter what color their Model-T would be like, as long as it is black". Model-T automobile was used as synonym, in order to describe the standardized top-down approach for transfer of technology or procedures.

Now, let us try to present some factual data on the history of statistics in this country and by far we wish to emphasize that there haven't been written in bulgarian language any sustaining monograph or collection of articles on this theme. Our sources have been very fragmentary and mainly from a secondary stock, moreover it has never been a privilege for the author of this lines to deal with applied statistics, per se. We divide our exposition in several paragraphs:

Part One, traces the early development of statistical thinking in this country right after Liberation War in 1878. The young state has created its first statistical organ with Art. № 44 from 21. I. 1880. It has been appended as "Statistical Directorate" on a part-time basis with the then existing Ministry of Finance, while interchangeably from 1894 to 1897 with the Ministry of Commerce & Agriculture. The role of this council has been to gather information on the physical, economical, intellectual and moral development of the country. This has been implemented through the first three major population censuses in the period 1880-1894. On the methodology and findings of this surveys, we have consulted some series of articles in the "Periodical Journal of Bulgarian Literary Society" compiled and written by Mihail Sarafov /i.e., supposedly, this man was the first professional statistician in Bulgaria and have been appointed Head of the "Statistical Directorate" for the above mentioned time period/. We have managed to obtain photocopies from these articles on the first population censuses in Bulgaria and are going to discuss on them in some further issues of this booklist.

Part Two, have to deal with a reformation of the council under a "State Law for Statistics at the Principality Bulgaria". This law has promulgated a new structure on a departmental basis with 5 branches from 1897 and reduced to 3 branches from 1908. In factual terms, these branches have been serving information on all aspects of social life in this country and their resulting product have been compiled in annual reports from the Directorate. Thus far, first official publication on omnibus data for this country is included in the "Statistical Yearbook" from 1908 - viz., on the occasion of proclaiming independence for the Kingdom of Bulgaria. Our information on this particular reference is incomplete, neither it has been clarified whether main sources of organization for this major effort for the state administration are predominantly Russian or predominantly International with respect to "Institut International de Statistique". While this is a job for professional historian in statistical sciences and we continue our informal approach to the study subject. This period ends with a decade of war conflicts, subsequently Balkan Wars from 1912-1913 and World War I from 1915-1919; further, it has been extended for new territories of indigenous bulgarian population in occupied lands Macedonia, Thracia and Dobrudja. Among other materials of forgotten anonymity and we have deducted some copies of socio-statistical inquiries from university professor Dimitar Michaikov, worthily performed during wartime in the above mentioned territories and following the war published in the "Annual of Jurisprudence Faculty". This articles are among the first specimens of social history evaluation in bulgarian literature. We are going to abstain here from further commentaries and return to the works and activities of D. Michaikov in another appropriate edition of the booklist.

Part Three, here our presentation extends over the period between the world wars. This is the most difficult part to describe in the early to modern times transition for the statistical theory and method. It abounds with names and publications from both bulgarian and foreign authors on statistical matters with particular reference to Bulgaria. The period does not introduce change from standpoint of administration /i.e., the "Statistical Directorate" and its supra-sedentary statute/, neither it is disputable the leading role of its main publishing organ /i.e., the "Statistical Yearbook" and its impregnable almanac format/. Apart from this, we daresay that bulgarian statistical thinking made its first steps towards methodological assessment and on the frontage of university and academic agenda. These works from bulgarian scholars G. Danailov, D. Michaikov, P. Kiranov, etc are excellent examples for a burgeoning science of statistics. However, strong influence is felt from the side of political economy and its stemming effect on the former - viz., it is not a surprising fact that all writers mentioned above have their primer in economical education. A lone standing name from the scientific elite in the country is that of russian renegade professor Oskar Anderson. His contributions include first representative sampling surveys of agricultural farms with inventory from years 1926, 1929 and 1934; subsequently, his method on the "10 % representative sample" is described in a book published in german language cf. "O. Anderson. Einführung in die Mathematische Statistik. Wien, 1935". Prof. O. Anderson migrated to Germany in 1942, where he accepted a Chair at the University of Kiel. This period ends with the population census from 12. XII. 1946, which is actually last one before abolishing monarchy and establishing republican constitution from a socialist type.

Part Four, this is the final phase in the development of the statistical network in the country. Article № 108 from 3. III. 1953 changes the departmental statute for "Statistical Directorate" /i.e., with a horizontal structure/; thus, a new body with legislative character is created - viz., the "Central Statistical Agency" and the later successor "National Statistical Institute" /i.e., both formations have vertical structure/. The new type of administration have levels of priority on municipal, regional and state subordination, rather than having a circular flow of information as practiced before. We are not going to delve in details for the work of the Agency/Institute in this long period of activity. It is commensurate with publications in the "State Gazzete" on national level, as well as a diversity of international information is exchanged with organizations such as UNESCO, UNICEF, EUROSTAT, etc. During this stage in state development for Bulgaria and its population, subsequently have been held 6 /six/ ad hoc statistical surveys /i.e., in 1956, 1965, 1975, 1985, 1992, 2002/. These have comprised statistical indicators for age, gender, residency, educational status, economical activity, household structure, etc; among other things and superior methodological techniques have been applied for each consecutive survey. We shall preclude our story right here and leave an inquisitive reader to consult the book itself.

Last words for the monograph at hand. Author Petko Bozhikov has been chief consultant at the "National Statistical Institute" and principal investigator for the 3rd, 4th and 5th national statistical surveys. All views expressed in this book are in agreement with the policy of the Institute. Further commentaries for the purpose of this review are sole contribution from the editor of this page.


ADDENDUM: Here is presented the official website of the "National Statistical Institute" and more particularly its historical page. More information can be obtained by direct reference to the official publications of the Institute,



Copyright © 2006 by the author.