Åk 6–9

1.2 History
To collect information or data is not a new phenomenon.  Already during classical antiquity, rulers collected information about their citizens in order to collect taxes and go to war.  The first population census which we know of was done in China 2200 bc.

During the 1500’s, tax registration lists were introduced which were used to base how much taxes each citizen should pay.

In 1662, John Graunt in England collected a population census for the years 1604-1661.  In connection to this collection, reasons for deaths were analyzed.  This new knowledge about populations was then called political arithmetic and Sir William Petty wrote about this new subject.

Edmund Halley, more known for having the comet Halley’s Comet named after him, also wrote books on the subject.

In Sweden, we have had “church books” since 1686.  In these, the ministers kept information about their parishioners. There you can read about an individual’s birth, wedding, giving birth to children, and death.  Even movement between households, cities and parishes is noted.

These books are unique in the world and give statisticians and historians a very good picture about how Sweden has developed.

During the years 1749–1859, a “table department” was created where information from these church books was collected and summarized.  In 1858, the Central Statistical Bureau (SCB) was created.  The bureau took over the responsibility for population statistics.  SCB still exists today and is an important information source.

In today’s computerized world, statistics are easily available and used in my areas.  Politicians, business and charities are example of organizations which use statistics for their work.