Population surveys are among the areas of official statistics with the longest tradition. Who does not know the population census from the Christmas story in the New Testament of the Bible?
Population statistics are about more than just numbers of inhabitants. In most industrialised countries, the changing age structure caused by decreasing births and an increasing life expectancy is one of the greatest challenges in socio-political terms. According to population projections, in-migration from abroad might slow down the process of ageing and diminishing in the population living in Germany, but it will not be able to stop it. Migration and integration will be central socio-political issues for the foreseeable future.
The income, expenditure and equipment of households, in connection with socio-economic variables, paint a picture of the different living conditions in Germany.
A major element of the voluntary surveys of households is the system of household budget surveys, which consist of the annual continuous household budget surveys (LWR) and the five-yearly sample survey of income and expenditure (EVS). Those two sets of statistics provide important findings on the income situation and consumption structures. The range of voluntary household surveys also includes the annual EU-SILC (survey of income and living conditions in the European Union), which is conducted annually, is comparable across the EU and provides, among other things, information on the risk of poverty of people or groups of people. Also included are the annual survey of the use of information and communication technologies in households and the time use surveys.
Education is a life-long process for individuals which runs primarily in the institutions of the formal education system but also includes non-formal and informal learning, for example, in the family or in the leisure time. Official education statistics largely focus on the institutions of the formal education system such as schools, institutions of higher education, etc.
Culture means not only arts but also includes ways of living, value systems and traditions. The statistical representation of culture requires a narrower and applicable definition of culture in the sense of grouping different cultural fields. What is described here is cultural institutions whose services are used by large parts of the population.
Today, health has a greater importance than ever. Growing health awareness and worries about the funding of medical care have resulted in a markedly increasing interest in the health system over the last few years.
Along with growing interest, demand for co-ordinated statistical information has increased, too. The need for information ranges from health care costs, health institutions and the health status of the population to causes of death.
The purpose of social legislation in Germany is to contribute to allowing all citizens to lead a decent life. A major task here is to avoid or compensate for special burdens in life, also by helping people to help themselves.
A large proportion of expenditure of public budgets is made for social security. However, questions of funding have been one of the reasons why a lively debate has been going on for some years about reforming the social systems. Examples are the planned raising of the retirement age, the recalculation of Hartz-IV standard rates or the discussion about reshaping long-term care insurance as well as parental allowance and parental child care allowance.
The modern state sets framework conditions for its citizens to live together in law and order and performs a number of services enabling them to live in safety and security. In Germany, the functions of the state are performed by the authorities at federal, regional (Länder) and municipal level as well as by the social security institutions.
Public finance statistics cover mainly the revenue, expenditure and debt of the overall public budget. Statistics on public service personnel provide information on public service staff. Tax statistics inform about the distribution of tax revenue and bases of taxation.
Implementing and observing the laws adopted by the parliament, ensuring legal protection for all citizens alike and, not least of all, crime control through the criminal prosecution authorities are prerequisites for the constitutional state to be accepted by its citizens.
The statistics of justice and criminal justice administration compiled at the statistical offices provide a wide range of data on criminal prosecution by the public prosecution offices and courts and represent the overall activities of the "third power in the state", the judicial power.
© Statistisches Bundesamt, Wiesbaden 2016
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