Chinese Statistical Reporting. Form Letters Run Amok

Saturday, November 29, 2008 21:09
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For anyone looking for statistics in China, a trip to the local library can be a fruitful adventure where volumes of the National Bureau of Statistics guides sit.

I myself was introduced to these guides 5 years ago when researching 20 2nd tier cities. Day after day I was pouring through the tomes (some in English, others in Chinese) and extracted data points that would go into the model.

It was an eye numbing experience to say the least, but an eye opener in the sense of I began to see just how useful/ useless the statistics themselves were depending on the area and the data point needed. Every city had its own measurement structure for things like real estate investment, or FDI (contracted vs. actual), and to get a consistent data point across 20 cities was really difficult from those sources alone.

and if that wasn’t enough… in the early 2000s, many of the statistical measurements were changed at the national level.. so going from 2000 to 2007 would see anomalies in the 2003-2005 time frame depending on how remote the city was.

Most recently, I was reintroduced into the realm of China’s statistical machine while updating some data on the Yangtze, and I was once again shown how the form letters that the local statistical bureaus release are essentially all the same in structure… but few are the same in content.

Using the Huangshi report as the example, you can see that there are several major headings… and these are consistent among the other 23 cities along the Yangtze:

  • Overview
  • Agriculture
  • Construction
  • Fixed Asset Investment
  • Domestic Trade
  • Foreign Trade
  • Transport and Telecom
  • Finance and Insurance Industries
  • Education, Science & Technology
  • Culture, Health, & Sports
  • Population, Living Standard, and Social Security
  • Resources and the Environment

Should you care to look at the Tongling, Maanshan, or Nantong reports… all the same structure.

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