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Corrado Gini and Italian Statistics under Fascism

Giovanni Favero ()

Il Pensiero Economico Italiano, 2004, vol. 12, issue 1, 45-59

Abstract: In this paper, I try to interpret the history of Italian statistics under Fascism in a longer term perspective, showing the links between the establishment of Istat in 1926 and a century-old theoretical economic and administrative tradition that assigned a central function to statistics in the government of the nation. Along these lines, the demographer, sociologist and statistician Corrado Gini, put at the head of Istat, laid the foundations of the Institute in a specific technical training of the staff and in the production of exhaustive and reliable data. His papers, recently deposited at acsin Rome, will perhaps shed some light on the issues proposed here. Gini’s organicist theory of society (and his corporatist theory of economy) can be interpreted as an effort to comprehend the field of human sciences, from biology to politics, in an organicist perspective. But it never became hegemonic in Italian scientific debate, and in some way Gini’s absolutist attitude inside administration was an obstacle for Mussolini’s needs for arrangement and consensus. After Gini’s resignation from Istat in 1932, official statistics went through a restructuring due to financial and editorial limitations. In this context, the target of surveys shifted from population-centered concerns to a wider attention to economic and social issues. The internal debate on «corporatist statistics» reveals the long incubation of the apparently innovative solution given in post-war years to the problem of statistical centralization with sample surveys, a solution that Gini scientifically opposed beginning in 1929. From a different point of view, the same debate reveals the role played by technical specialization in assuring the autonomy as well as the continuity of official statistics during and after Fascism, reproposing its essential role in a context where its political function was changing from control to information.

Keywords: Corrado Gini; official statistics in fascist Italy; population theory; statistical methods (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: B31 N44 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:pei:journl:v:12:y:2004:1:3:p:45-59