Statistics Latvia - since 1919
1912 – publication of Margers Skujenieks “National Issue in Latvia” where area of the territory of Latvia, number of population and national composition was calculated for the very first time.
September 1, 1919 – the Cabinet of Ministers established State Statistical Bureau, adopted the interim regulations on its activity and appointed M. Skujenieks as director of the office.
World War II interrupted the activity of State Statistical Bureau. Its director M. Skujenieks was arrested and later – shot.
During the Nazi Occupation compilation of statistical data was taken over by Reichskommissar für das Ostland, and available statistical data on occupied eastern regions – the Baltic States, Belarus and eastern part of Poland – were compiled in the publication „Structural Report on the Ostland” („Strukturbericht über das Ostland”).
1945 – Latvia became part of the USSR, therefore, statistical office was restructured and incorporated into statistical system of the USSR.
1987 – Statistical State Bureau was renamed State Committee on Statistics.
1992 – Restructuring of the statistical system was taken up to successfully integrate into the EU statistical system.
1998 – State Committee on Statistics was renamed Central Statistical Bureau.
1919-1940 Marģers Skujenieks
1926-1937 Voldemārs Salnais (acting Director)
1944-1948 Romāns Marčenkovs
1948-1953 Rūdolfs Bojārs
1953-1958 Aleksandrs Drjučins
1958-1970 Elerts Āboliņš
1970-1993 Gunārs Baltiņš
1993-1998 Arvils Sautiņš
1998- Aija Žīgure
On September 1, 1919 the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Latvia established State Statistical Office by adopting its interim by-laws. However, first statistics on Latvia as a territorial unit were compiled already before 1919 – by Margers Skujenieks, the prominent politician, statistician, and publicist of those days.
From 1907 to 1911 M. Skujenieks studied in Moscow, especially focusing on statistics, history and national economy of Latvia. Despite unfinished formal higher educaion, later M. Skujenieks became an important political worker and statistician of the first Republic of Latvia. In 1912 his book “Nacionālais jautājums Latvijā” [The National Issue in Latvia] was published. It is worth to note because in this publication for the first time demographic statistics are compiled on Latvia as a territorial unit. While other pre-war publications provided data both on Baltic States and on Kurzeme and Vidzeme regions, in this publication the area, the number of population and the national composition in the territory of Latvia are calculated for the very first time.
M.Skuejnieks was involved in posts related to statistics (the Statistical Office of Refugee Committee in Riga; Statistical Department of the Land Council of Vidzeme) already before proclamation of the Republic of Latvia and establishment of national statistical institute. As an active publicist M.Skujenieks attempted to shape the public opinion for the support of Latvia’s political and economic independence. In 1918 he chaired the meetings of the Democratic Block, a coalition of Latvian parties, which played important role in the efforts to prepare for the declaration of independence of Latvia. M.Skujenieks personally participated at the National Council's meeting on November 18, 1918 when the Republic of Latvia was proclaimed.
In 1919, when State Statistical Bureau was established, M.Skujenieks was appointed as its Director. Initially, State Statistical Bureau consisted of two departments – demographic and agricultural statistics departments. In the successive years 7 departments were formed: demographic, agricultural, general, industrial, foreign trade, domestic trade, as well as price and labour statistics departments.
Few months after the State Statistical Bureau was established preparation for the first Population and Agricultural Census started which was carried out in summer 1920. In neighbouring countries – Estonia and Lithuania – first census in independent country was carried out 3-4 years later when Latvia had already started preparation works for the second census in 1925.
After years of wartime and general confusion with streams of refugees it was M.Skujenieks’ amazing capacity for work and his professional experience which assured that demographic data on 1920 could already be compiled and published when first “Statistical Yearbook of Latvia 1921” was released. In the future statistical data were annually published in the main publication of the State Statistical Bureau “Statistical Yearbook of Latvia”. First yearbook was released in 1921, but last – in 1939. First “Monthly bulletin” was released in April 1926 and in the future it was published monthly on a regular basis until soviet occupation stopped its publication. Statistical publications were bilingual – Latvian and French – because they were also used abroad.
Library of the State Statistical Bureau inherited Vidzeme Knighthood Statistics Department book collection with 3540 volumes. Unfortunately, it has not remained as the property of Central Statistical Bureau until nowadays. The Bureau also had its team who draw charts, maps and other illustrations for statistical publications, and even nowadays these drawings can be evaluated as of exceptional quality.
In the first ten years of activity the State Statistical Office employed around 100 employees, however, in the following years the number of employees grew rapidly. In 1937 a newspaper article on the moving to premises in Lacplesa Street 1 mentions already 379 employees who until that moment were forced to work in shifts due to unsuitably narrow premises in Stabu Street 12.
Advertisements in the printed press of those days present evidence that price collection was done with the help of voluntary correspondents who received "Statistical Yearbook of Latvia" as remuneration for their work during a year.
The State Statistical Bureau developed very rapidly; became one of internationally recognised statistical institutions, and its managers were such remarkable personalities and politically significant figures as Margers Skujenieks and Voldemars Salnais.
The average height (in centimetres) of recruits at the age of 19-24 (Statistical Yearbook of Latvia 1921)
Administrative fines in 1921 (Statistical Yearbook of Latvia 1921)
Average prices of goods in December 1922 (“Ekonomists” February 1, 1923)
Age and marital status of population (Statistical Atlas of Latvia)
Land reform (Statistical Atlas of Latvia)
Wages and salaries of male and female farmhands (“Ekonomists” September 13, 1936))
In August 1940, after the occupation of Latvia, Director of the State Statistical Bureau M.Skujenieks was arrested by the Cheka. Last statistical “Monthly bulletin” was published in July 1940, yet it was without usual Prime Minister K.Ulmanis’ introductory words on the first page.
Available statistical data on the occupied eastern regions – the Baltic States, Belarus and eastern part of Poland – were compiled in publication „Structural Report on the Ostland” („Strukturbericht über das Ostland”) which consisted of two parts „Ostland in Zahlen” and „Ostland Atlas”. Both these parts were restricted information used only for administrative purposes. Producer of these statistical collections was Reichkommissar fur das Ostland, but statistical data for these publications were compiled by Jekabs Jurevics – former head of Domestic Trade Statistics Section of the State Statistical Bureau.
After the occupation, when Latvia became part of the USSR, statistical office was restructured and included into the statistical system of the USSR under new name “The Statistical Bureau of the Latvian SSR”. In 1987 Statistical Office was renamed the State Committee on Statistics. Methodology, collection, processing and dissemination of statistical data were changed to adapt to the needs of the centrally planned economy.
Processing of statistical data was decentralized in 26 District Computing Stations and in Riga Computing Centre. Small amount of electro-mechanical calculators and perforating machines with punch cards for data entry, were used in data processing.
At the end of 70ies Computing Centre of the Republic (CCR) was established in Riga and mainframe was used for data processing which was organized round the clock in three shifts. CCR employed more than 1000 persons. Production of statistics for the State Committee on Statistics comprised approximately 10% of total amount of work at the CCR.
Significant part of aggregated data was classified as “secret” or “restricted use” information during the soviet period. Only in 1957 a limited edition of the first collection of statistical data for dissemination was published: “National Economy of the Latvian SSR” in two languages – Latvian and Russian. However, also in decades following 1957 majority of publications, especially, analytical reports based on short-term statistics – “svodkas” [summaries], as they were called at that time – were classified as secret and therefore published in limited editions – around 20-25 copies. All copies were registered and addressed to certain persons in Council of Ministers, Central Committee and other governmental institutions.
In order to provide officials with timely information, the printing house used to work also at nights, and in the morning, right after the printing of summaries, employees of the printing house and statisticians delivered each copy to its addressee.
In case of top secret data (for example, detailed transport statistics) during the printing of the material staff member of the statistics section was standing next to the printing machine and immediately destroying all the sheet spoilages, if such appeared.
To shape statisticians political opinions and attitudes, political training took place regularly. Lecture “On the implementation of XI five-year plan and tasks for its successful accomplishment” (О ходе выполнения плана ХI пятилетки и задачи по ее успешному завершению) is one example of this type of training statisticians were used to listen to during the soviet period.
It was only when M.Gorbachovs became Secretary-General of Central Committee, strict secrecy regime and politicization of statistics started to phase out gradually.
After the renewal of independence Central Statistical Bureau of the Republic of Latvia (until 1998 – the State Committee on Statistics) started to develop statistical system on a new basis which was determined by country’s transition to market economy and integration into the EU statistical system. The CSB of the Republic of Latvia joined cooperation programme of statistical institutions of countries of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), the European Union and 3 Baltic states. Starting with 1992 new statistical system for data collection, processing and publishing was developed. Introduction of new technologies and methodology was facilitated by available EU funding.
From perforating machines, where data were entered from punch cards (80 bits per each), and primitive, noisy electromechanical calculators available to only a few statisticians, to personal computer for each statistician and server network with a memory of terabytes (1013 bytes) – this is the development of CSB system's technical basis during the last 40 years.
CSB of the Republic of Latvia is a member of the European Statistical System (ESS) which is partnership between Eurostat, National Statistical Institutions and other organizations producing statistics used at European level. Comparability and harmonization of statistical information is essential aspect for data produced in different countries of the ESS.
Since August 1998 Aija Zigure is the President of Central Statistical Bureau of the Republic of Latvia.