Although Chinese statistics are widely used in economic analysis, very little is known about the institutions and procedures involved in statistical collection. This essay focuses on the institutional aspects of the specialized statistical agency in China—the State Statistical Bureau (SSB)—and draws inferences about its operations by comparing the Chinese and Soviet statistical agencies. The article finds considerable differences between the Chinese and Soviet statistical agencies despite their common origins and despite the similar functions they performed in economic planning. These institutional differences are traced to the differences in the way the two economies were organized. The Chinese economy was organized on a territorial basis whereas the Soviet economy was organized on a ministerial basis. A territorial system has a lower demand for economic information at the central level whereas a ministerial system increases such a demand. Other factors, such as the political shocks experienced by the two countries, are also important.

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