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Social Statistics in Use

Social Statistics in Use

Philip M. Hauser
Copyright Date: 1975
Published by: Russell Sage Foundation
Pages: 400
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  • Book Info
    Social Statistics in Use
    Book Description:

    Shows why social statistics are important and how they are put to use in the interest of the public. Written by a sociologist who serves as Director of the Population Research Center at the University of Chicago, the book illustrates the many applications social statistics have for governmental agencies at the federal, state, and local levels; for the business community; for labor unions; for educators and researchers; and for the general public. The author provides a description of the major bodies of social statistical information, including population; births, deaths, and health; marriage, divorce, and the family; education; the labor force; crime; consumption and the consumer; recreation; governments; and public opinion polls.

    eISBN: 978-1-61044-643-3
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Frederick Mosteller

    Margaret Olivia Sage instructed the Trustees of Russell Sage Foundation to use the funds she gave for “the improvement of social and living conditions in the United States of America….” In carrying out this mandate, the Foundation has tried especially to take advantage of the findings and methods of the social sciences. These activities lead inevitably to data gathering and data analysis. People naturally wonder why all these data must be gathered, what good they are, and who uses them. These are fair questions and they deserve careful, thoughtful, detailed responses such as those provided in this book.

    The Foundation...

  4. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Philip M. Hauser
  5. CHAPTER 1 Why Statistics?
    (pp. 1-22)

    The widespread misunderstanding and distrust of statistics and statisticians constitutes a major reason for writing this volume. Because hard facts are increasingly needed as a basis for policy formation, action programs and the evaluation of the impact of programs in our interdependent society, it is important that the general public gain an understanding of statistics and the role of the statistician. Perhaps the following summary points will help to bring this about, as a preliminary to considering selected areas of social statistics and the way in which they are used to serve public needs.

    1. Statistics are quantitative facts collected, aggregated,...

  6. CHAPTER 2 On Population
    (pp. 23-42)

    The purpose of the Decennial Census of Population and its major official use is basic to the very structure of government in the United States.

    When the founding fathers debated the organization of the Congress, they came to the conclusion that for the one house of Congress

    Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers ….

    They also established a means of finding out what these respective numbers would be by ordering that a census should be taken within each period of ten years. At...

  7. CHAPTER 3 On Births, Deaths, and Health
    (pp. 43-58)

    Vital and health statistics provide information about births and deaths; marriages and divorces; illness; health care; and health resources and facilities. Data on illness, called “morbidity statistics,” include “notifiable disease” data (information about contagious diseases), disability data from household interview surveys, diagnostic and other data from health examinations, and hospital discharge surveys. Health-care statistics include data on utilization of physician, dentist, hospital, and other health services from the household interview, hospital discharge, and other surveys. The statistics on health resources and facilities deal with health manpower data and information on hospitals, rest homes, and other health-care facilities.

    Varied uses are...

  8. CHAPTER 4 On Marriage, Divorce, and the Family
    (pp. 59-76)

    The major source of statistics on families is the United States Census. However, early decennial censuses did not include a count of families but only data concerning households, and the definition of household varied over the years so that the figures are not entirely comparable. The first census in 1790 defined a household as a dwelling unit and all persons residing in it; later censuses modified the definition of household.

    Beginning with the census of 1890 the marital status of the population has been published. Since that date, for persons fourteen years of age or older the count is available...

  9. CHAPTER 5 On Education
    (pp. 77-106)

    Education is a large and complex activity in the United States. Public and private expenditures for formal education at all levels were estimated at about $90 billion for the 1972–1973 school year. About 30 percent of the nation’s population—over 60 million people—is enrolled in some kind of classes, and almost three million people are teaching these children and adults. More than eight million of these students are enrolled in colleges and universities for degree credit. The 1972 graduating classes, for example, were awarded over three million high school diplomas and almost 900,000 bachelor degrees. The federal share...

  10. CHAPTER 6 On the Labor Force
    (pp. 107-134)

    The term “labor-force statistics” refers to data on the working population—those who are employed and those who are trying to find jobs. In addition, the information provided relates to the kind of work people do; the kinds of places in which they work; their input in terms of hours worked per week or weeks worked per year; their earnings; the duration of their unemployment, if jobless; and various other facts about their attachment, full-time or part-time, to the labor force. The last is of great importance today when much of our working population consists of married women and young...

  11. CHAPTER 7 On Social Security and Welfare
    (pp. 135-158)

    One of the important functions of any society is helping those who are unable to provide for themselves: the aged, the sick, the disabled, the widowed, and orphaned or deserted children. In primitive societies, these functions are carried out by the tribe or the extended family. For centuries in Western society, the church played an important role in assisting those in need. Increasingly, in the last few decades, this function has been taken over by governments. In the United States, two major sets of public programs have been created to fill this need: the Social Security system and public assistance...

  12. CHAPTER 8 On Delinquency and Crime
    (pp. 159-190)

    The criminal and juvenile justice systems are made up of three parts—police, courts, and corrections. There is much overlap in these systems in the handling of adults and juveniles, but there is also in many jurisdictions separate machinery for dealing with adults and with most juveniles. Each of these systems produces statistics.

    Like other outputs of these systems, their statistics are influenced by many factors. They are, most of all, the “bookkeeping records” of the work done by the official agencies. They tell us about complaints received, crimes known to the police, numbers of persons arrested, prosecuted, convicted, and...

  13. CHAPTER 9 On Consumption and the Consumer
    (pp. 191-208)

    Economists divide the domestic economy into three sectors: households, businesses, and the government. The sum total of the output of the sectors is called gross national product, the largest part of which consists of the expenditures of households or consumers. From a different point of view, the activities of households may be seen as falling either in the area of acquisition or in that of allocation of income, people being engaged in work, or in consumption and leisure. How consumers budget the time as well as the funds available to them—how much they work and how much they either...

  14. CHAPTER 10 On Housing and Construction
    (pp. 209-232)

    Housing and construction statistics considered in this chapter are defined rather broadly. The statistics cover the following general areas: the inventory of housing; housing programs operated by the federal government and by state and local governments; the construction and repair of housing; the volume of nonresidential buildings and other nonresidential construction; measures of construction prices; requirements for construction materials; and the Census of the Construction Industries. A variety of data relating primarily to other fields are not dealt with even though they provide information important for housing and construction. Thus, excluded are statistics on labor, though they relate to construction...

  15. CHAPTER 11 On Metropolitan Transport and Land Use
    (pp. 233-250)

    Transport statistics are of value in many ways which extend far beyond information relative to transport per se. In order to understand the ways in which transport statistics can be utilized to gain insight into social issues and problems, it is necessary to consider briefly the nature of transport and, incidentally, also of communications.

    Transportation and communication constitute two forms of what may be termed “spatial interaction,” or the overcoming of the friction represented by space or distance. Spatial considerations, therefore, are primary in the use of transportation and communication statistics. Transportation—the movement of people and goods—and communication...

  16. CHAPTER 12 On Outdoor Recreation
    (pp. 251-272)

    An increasingly important element of family expenditures and consumption is leisure time activity. With greatly increased productivity and per capita income over the years, hours of work have diminished and free weekends and extended vacations have made play and recreation assume great importance in the life style of the American people. Moreover, the commercialization of various forms of play and recreation has generated into a major economic activity indicated by consumer expenditures of some $39 billion for recreation in 1970.

    In consequence, there has been a growing demand for information about recreation by government—federal, state, and local; by business;...

  17. CHAPTER 13 On Governments
    (pp. 273-298)

    Public services in the United States are provided by more than 80,000 separate governments. These include, in addition to the federal government and the fifty states, many thousands of municipalities, counties, townships, school districts, and other special-purpose districts.

    Particular kinds of public services are reflected by data in such subject fields as education, transportation, social insurance and welfare, and health. However, the most comprehensive overall measures of government are provided by the “government statistics” program of the Bureau of the Census. Like bureau programs in other fields, this one involves a census that supplies relatively detailed data at periodic intervals...

  18. CHAPTER 14 On Elections
    (pp. 299-312)

    Statistical data for the study of American politics abound in the United States, both in terms of historical experience and of current availabilities. But the abundance is not uniform in either quality or in geographic distribution, and the portfolio of material must be examined in detail to know just what is at hand.

    The simplest form of electoral data are the state-by-state figures for the selection of presidential electors. Available from official state sources back to the earliest days of the Republic, these have been assembled in Petersen’s (1963)A Statistical History of the American Presidential Electionsand they represent...

  19. CHAPTER 15 On Public Opinion Polls
    (pp. 313-338)

    Among the statistics of which the general public is most aware are those emanating from the public opinion polls. Especially in presidential election years the preelection polls engage the attention of the American people with heightened interest as an important element in electioneering and political debate. Political leaders in all political parties—despite denials of the relevance of the data particularly on the part of the candidates with poor showings—watch the preelection polls closely and, undoubtedly, adjust the conduct of their campaigns in response to them and, also, in response to polls on specific issues of significance at the...

  20. CHAPTER 16 On Social Indicators
    (pp. 339-356)

    The review of selected areas of social statistics in the preceding chapters and discussion of their various uses makes it clear that social statistics already play a significant role in the operation of our society. Yet, especially to those familiar with economic statistics, it is apparent that there is no systematic, additive way in which social statistics can be summarized simply to portray the state of our society in the same manner as the gross national product measures the state of our economy. GNP, as a measurement of the money value of all goods and services produced, despite a number...

  21. Index
    (pp. 357-385)