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Historical overview

18th/19th century

First attempts to set up a permanent system of official statistics are made in Germany as early as in the 18th century in the form of collections of material for "descriptions of the life of the state and the people".

In the 19th century, the first German states establish “statistical bureaus” or “central statistical agencies”, which later evolve into the statistical offices of the Länder.

  • Prussia (1805)
  • Bavaria (1808)
  • Württemberg (1820)

1834

  • The Deutscher Zollverein (Federation of German states for customs and trade purposes) develops cross-state statistics (foreign trade, population censuses).

1872

  • The "Imperial Statistical Office" is set up in the newly founded German Reich. It is subordinated to the Reich Ministry of the Interior and, in its capacity as central statistical agency, assumes responsibility also for the statistics of the Zollverein. Apart from that, the Office coordinates and harmonises many state statistics.

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20th century

From 1918 onwards, the "Reich Statistical Office" is subordinated to the Reich Ministry of Economics.

Statistics of public finance, short-term price and wage statistics, and national income calculations are constructed and extended.

From 1933
Abrogation of the states’ sovereignty; Prussian State Statistical Office merges with the Reich Statistical Office; statistical activities of the states are transferred to the Reich level, where those functions are increasingly dispersed across various authorities. The Central Statistical Committee attempts to coordinate the fragmented statistical activities.

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20th century
From 1945


The occupying powers establish statistical offices in their respective occupation zones, partly by falling back on the still existing Land statistical offices.

  • German Central Board for Statistics in the Soviet Occupation Zone (Central Statistical Office) in Berlin-East
  • Statistical Office of the British Occupation Zone in Hamburg
  • The Land statistical offices of Bavaria (Munich) and Württemberg (Stuttgart) and Baden (Karlsruhe) continue to exist. A new Land statistical office for Hesse is established in Wiesbaden.
  • Statistical Office of the French Occupation Zone in Baden-Baden

1948

Based on the law of the Economic Council of 21 January 1948, the British and American statistical offices are merged into the "Statistical Office of the United Economic Territory". The new statistical office of the Anglo-American bizone is located in Wiesbaden.

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20th century

1949

The Federal Republic of Germany is founded. The Statistical Office of the United Economic Territory is subordinated to the Ministry of the Interior and "entrusted with the compilation of statistics for federal purposes".

1950

With effect from 1 April 1950, the statistical office of the Federal Republic is renamed as "Statistisches Bundesamt" (Federal Statistical Office).

1950-52

Until 1952 official statistics in the GDR are gradually centralised following the dissolution of the Länder.

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20th century

1953

The Law on Statistics for Federal Purposes of 3 September 1953 for the first time consolidates the organisational and procedural provisions concerning statistics and specifies the content of federal statistics.

1961 and 1970

Censuses of population, occupations and non-agricultural local units are held in the Federal Republic of Germany.

1983

The 1983 Population Census is suspended due to the "population census judgment" of the Federal Constitutional Court. The judgment stipulates the right to informational self-determination und imposes tight limits on statistics, which are then incorporated into the Law on Statistics for Federal Purposes.

1987

The population census initially planned for 1983 is conducted in modified form to comply with the "population census judgment", but still provokes much protest.

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20th century

1990

With the unification of Germany on 3 October 1990, the statistical laws of the Federal Republic also enter into force in the new Länder and Berlin-East.

1991

All statistics in the new Länder and Berlin-East are produced according to the concepts and methods of federal statistics. Some staff members of the Statistical Office of the former GDR are assigned to the Federal Statistical Office to produce federal statistics. In accordance with the unification treaty, all other employees are transferred to the “Common Statistical Office of the New Länder" (GeStAL). This office is in charge of the Länder’s statistical tasks until fully operational offices are (re-)established in the new Länder.

1999

As part of the relocation of the Federal Government from Bonn to Berlin, the Federal Statistical Office takes over about 500 employees from federal administration authorities and sets up a branch office in Bonn. Specialist staff from Wiesbaden, Berlin and from a subsidiary office in Düsseldorf, which is shut down in the process, are also moved to the Bonn Branch Office. The Branch Office assumes responsibility for part of the foreign trade statistics and for, among other things, household, social and environment statistics.

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21th century

2011

First Europe-wide census, which in Germany is conducted by the Federal Statistical Office and the statistical offices of the Länder on the basis of a register-based method.

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