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The statistical big bang of 1911: Ideology, technological innovation and the production of medical statistics

Higgs, E (1996) 'The statistical big bang of 1911: Ideology, technological innovation and the production of medical statistics.' Social History of Medicine, 9 (3). 409 - 426. ISSN 0951-631X

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Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between intellectual debate, technologies for analysing information, and the production of statistics in the General Register Office (GRO) in London in the early twentieth century. It argues that controversy between eugenicists and public health officials respecting the cause and effect of class-specific variations in fertility led to the introduction of questions in the 1911 census on marital fertility. The increasing complexity of the census necessitated a shift from manual to mechanised forms of data processing within the GRO. The subsequent increase in processing power allowed the GRO to make important changes to the medical and demographic statistics it published in the Annual Reports of the Registrar General. These included substituting administrative sanitary districts for registration districts as units of analysis, consistently transferring deaths in institutions back to place of residence, and abstracting deaths according to the International List of Causes of Death. © 1996 The Society for the Social History of Medicine.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2011 14:26
Last Modified: 17 Aug 2017 18:16
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/1364

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