Newsletter issues
Combined index

Statistical Sources for Social Research on Western Europe 1945-1995. A Guide to Social Statistics

Franz Rothenbacher

This volume is the sixth in a series of guidebooks, annotated bibliographies, bibliometrical analyses and meta-information for the social sciences, entitled "Europe in Comparison". The series is published by Heinrich Best on behalf of the InformationsZentrum Sozialwissenschaften, Bonn, and Peter Flora on behalf of the Mannheim Centre for European Social Research.

This book is conceived as a guide to sources of official statistics which are relevant for the social sciences and empirical social research in a European context. Official statistics is, apart from university social survey research, probably the most important data source particularly for sociology, political science and economics. Although official statistics is one of the most important sources for social research, it is not easy to get an overview of available statistical data or to find statistical information on specific subjects. The situation is even worse if one looks for statistical data for other European countries produced by national statistical offices or intergovernmental organizations. The problems are aggravated by the fact that national statistical systems differ considerably and that statistical publications usually are only available in the respective country's language.

This volume therefore intends to help users to find statistics for European countries. The countries dealt with are eighteen Western European countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In addition to national statistics coming from these eighteen countries, statistical titles published by inter-governmental and supranational organizations are also listed. Special importance was placed on the United Nations, its specialized organizations and other bodies relevant to the social sciences. A second section deals with international organizations outside the UN-system which produce data that are relevant for the social sciences. A third section presents information on statistics published by the different regional organizations of Europe, the most important ones being the OECD, EFTA, Council of Europe and, finally, the European Union with EUROSTAT. A final section deals with statistics coming from intergovernmental organizations which only embrace a segment of the countries of Europe, as the Nordic Council or the Benelux Union.

Apart from international and national statistics, secondary statistics in the form of historical and comparative data handbooks and statistical compendia are listed. The introduction describes, among other things, the historical development of international and national statistics, its current organization, major development trends, advantages and limits of official statistics.

The composition of the eighteen chapters on national statistics is standardized. A short introduction to the history and development of official statistics in each country precedes seven sections. The first section "General Publications" lists summarizing accounts and historical descriptions of the statistical system resp. office of the country. In section two "Catalogues" main sources of information on national statistics are listed, such as catalogues of statistical publications, statistical bibliographies, working programmes, etc.

In a third section "Series and Periodicals" the bulk of statistical information is presented. The main categories of statistical publications are: statistical abstracts, monthly (or quarterly) statistical reviews, and special statistical series with specific subjects. These statistical series deal with all the main statistical fields and are usually subdibvided into a large number of such different topics as demography, labour market, education, health, national accounts, social security, environment, etc. As each country developed its own classification system, no effort was made to bring these different systems into an artifical new system. The fourth section deals with the "Population Censuses" as one main source of statistical information. The published results from the population censuses since the 1970s are listed title by title. Most of the censuses conducted prior to the 1970s have already been documented in other guides, therefore reference is made to these earlier guides. The fifth section is devoted to publications on social indicators and social reports as important products of official social statistics. A sixth section deals with "Historical Statistics" in the sense of specialized or comprehensive publications summarizing in the form of time series results of official statistics in a diachronically comparable way. This section only contains historical statistics published by the national statistical offices, while historico-statistical compendia published by others are included in the chapter on "Secondary Statistics". The seventh and last section on "Databases" presents important statistical online and offline data bases run by the national statistical institutes. Furthermore data on electronic media (on diskette or CD-ROM) that can be obtained from national statistical offices are described.

Franz Rothenbacher, Statistical Sources for Social Research on Western Europe 1945-1995. A Guide to Social Statistics. Opladen: Leske+Budrich, 1998 (=Europe in Comparison, vol. 6). 399 pp. ISBN 3-8100-2047-8. DM 74.00.