German Statistical Society

The German Statistical Society

The German Statistical Society was founded in 1911. However, before this there was a Society to which German statisticians belonged, namely the Association for Social Policy. In 1909 the Association for Social Policy split with part of it becoming the German Society for Sociology. The statisticians were part of the German Society for Sociology which concentrated on studying economics and society.

In 1911 the German Statistical Society was formed, not as a separate Society, but as a branch of the German Society for Sociology. Georg von Mayr was appointed as the first chairman of the Society. He was Director of the Royal Bavarian Regional Statistical Office and professor of Political Economy, Public Finance and Statistics at the University of Munich. Von Mayr had earlier founded a statistics journal, Allgemeines Statistisches Archiv, in 1890 and publication of this was taken over by the German Statistical Society. They began to publish a second journal Deutsches Statistisches Zentralblatt in 1914. Annual meetings of the Society were introduced. From 1928 onwards these have been part of the "Statistical Week", jointly organised by the German Statistical Society and the Union of German Municipal Statisticians.

The second chairman of the Society was Friedrich Zahn who took over in 1925 on the death of von Mayr. It was under his chairmanship that the Society became independent of the German Society for Sociology in 1929. At around this time membership was approaching 200. However when the Nazis came to power in 1933 the Society was put into an extremely difficult position since it had to work on the issues determined by the National Socialist Government. Hence as well as considering economic planning and compulsory military service, the Society had to undertake statistical analysis in relation to genetic and racial research. Between 1933 and 1938 over a third of the members of the Society either left voluntarily or were expelled from the Society for political reasons.

In 1948 the German Statistical Society was re-founded due to the efforts of Karl Wagner. It now had an important role to play in the German recovery following World War II and membership quickly rose to over 400. Specific Sections were introduced to study important areas of statistics, in particular Sections studying Sampling Methods, Questions of Statistical Education, Industrial Applications of Statistical Methods, and Regional Statistics were set up.

Gerhard Fürst took over the chairmanship of the Society in 1960 and he took the step of introducing advanced training courses in specific areas of statistics. To compensate for the lack of mathematically oriented statistics within the Society, the annual meeting in 1968 was specifically aimed at methods of mathematical-statistics and their applications. In 1972 Wolfgang Wetzel became Chairman and he fostered stronger links with universities. A second Pentecost Meeting was organised on an annual basis which was aimed more at academic issues. A new Section on Empirical Economics and Applied Econometrics was set up and the term of office of the Chairman was changed so that a Chairman could serve for only four years.

The Society continued to expand and add new Sections. For example a Section on Statistics in Natural Science and Technology was added as was a Section on Methodology of Statistical Surveys. After the reunification of Germany, which became official on 3 October 1990, the Society worked to extend membership to the whole of Germany and produced a memorandum on the Development of Statistics at Universities in the New Länder and East Berlin. Other more recent activities include running the Wiesbaden Scientific Colloquium jointly with the Federal Statistical Office which has occurred since 1992. Young Researchers' Workshops have been organised beginning in 1994. Today the Society has around 800 members.


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JOC/EFR August 2004 School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews, Scotland
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