Society in Numbers: The Debate over Quantification in 18th-Century Political Economy
By Karin Johannisson
In his Modest proposal of 1729, Jonathan Swift took aim at political arithmetic—at its number mania, its intimate links with state power, its impudence in measuring human worth in money. A half century later, Adam Smith, himself no stranger to issues of quantification, joined in Swift's attack: "I have no great faith in political arithmetic." In a few more years Robert Malthus would express similar sentiments.
Karl Marx, on the other hand, would accept political arithmetic as just the all-embracing social science its founders had envisioned, and would cite William Petty as one of the most inspired and original of economists. In modern surveys of the history of the social sciences, political arithmetic has likewise been assessed in conspicuously favorable terms. Quantitative methods hold prestige in the context of social science; numerical data are seen as a mark of scientific neutrality toward the phenomena under study. Only in recent years has this objectivity come under scrutiny, with the recognition that statistics offer no special guarantee of freedom from ideological influences. Numerical data are not collected, they are selected and sorted according to criteria shaped by ideology and politics.
The 18th-century debates over the merits of political arithmetic reveal sober recognition of the ideological content of the subject, as well as shining faith in order, systematics, and reason. The optimism that attended the application of political arithmetic was countered by a reluctance to claim much for its methods and utility. What emerged was not the vision of a measurable society, but rather a new view of social statistics as a useful instrument for describing aspects of society and economy.
Staatenkunde and Statistics
By the middle of the 18th century, "statistics" or Staatenkunde had been a subject of study in German-speaking countries of over fifty years. Its object was comparative description of the resources of different states; its aim was to assess their political strength. The purely verbal descriptions neither employed numbers nor aspired to generalization or to the formulation of general laws. This early Staatenkunde , which lacked both a quantitative method and a connection with the natural sciences, grew into a university discipline of great prestige equipped with an increasingly refined methodology. The descriptions it generated served as a bank of knowledge from which facts could be drawn by government officials as they drafted domestic and foreign policy. University statistics thus came to be known as "the right eye of the politician," whose duty it was to watch out for the nation's resources and prosperity.
To the German statisticians, schooled in Aristotelian philosophy, the welfare of the state was not merely a question of quantities and materials; their concerns also encompassed intangibles like national character, satisfaction of the citizenry, and realization of the aims of the state. From an enormous mass of information, the statistician had to extract the facts pertaining to the happiness of the masses. In his Theorie der Statistik , August von Schlözer identified the task of his discipline: "to measure the happiness of peoples, and whether this is increasing or declining." This meant "power and strength, to be sure! But these are only part of the happiness of a people. And not always these: for are there no states which are outwardly all-powerful but whose citizens live in wretchedness?" Von Schlözer's words capture a basic ideology. A country's strength is not to be measured only in the superficial and the visible. Such assessments miss crucial factors like character, quality, and depth, which serve to distinguish the nations of the earth.
The statistical net hauled in unmanageable quantities of information. Toward the end of the 18th century some statisticians began systematically to use the table as a means of organizing this information. The tabular form, with its columns of countries and rows of categories, facilitated comparative analysis and offered new perspectives. At first, the tables mixed verbal and numerical information, but the use of columns soon favored facts in the form of figures. Numerical language, uniform and efficient, produced compact tables. The instrument of the table in turn created a corps of advocates, with clear preference for just those categories that could be most easily quantified. Such "tabular statistics," as its detractors dubbed it, differed markedly from the qualitative discipline of university statistics.
Although they wielded a numerical sword, the advocates of tabular statistics did not fight under the banner of quantitative social
analysis. The purpose of their tables remained description, albeit with the aid of numbers. Such descriptive quantification should be distinguished from analysis of a society believed to be the real product of individual, quantifiable constituents. Nonetheless, tabular statistics was seen as a real threat by the proponents of the older, university statistics. As supposed materialists and social mechanics bent on dismantling a beautiful and intricate reality, the tabular statisticians came under steadily heavier fire.
To the university statisticians, the word was the medium of statistics. Numbers might occasionally prove useful as an auxiliary instrument to give concrete form to particular descriptions or to express relationships. But numbers can never pierce the surface, they argued, or explain more than material circumstance. The influential review close to the professoriate of the University of Göttingen dismissed the new "table hacks" and "table fabricators" as common journeymen, whose reliance on the instrument rendered their work both shallow and coarse and reduced a beautiful art to a soulless technology. Only the nobility of university statistics grasped the idealistic factors inherent in the state. "The tabular method [seeks to] reduce everything to figures. . . . If one has a few columns giving the figures for square miles, revenue, population and our dear livestock, one has a summary of the strength of the state; for national spirit, love of freedom, genius and character. . .there are no columns. . .and yet it is much less the body than the spirit that determines the strength of the state." The metaphor of the body recurred: "Has not. . .the whole science of statistics—one of the noblest—been debased to a skeleton, to a veritable corpse, on which one cannot look without loathing?. . . . The state is something nobler than a machine. . .it forms a moral body."
The note of desperation in these words reflects a profound transformation in the nature of the dispute. A quarrel that appeared to concern the form in which statistical data should appear came to represent rival philosophies. The quantitative approach, regarded as
reducing reality to the material and excising the spiritual, stood as a challenge to the basic ideology of Romanticism, with its idealism, organic concept of the state, and emphasis on individuality. How naive to see the state as machine! How could anything so multifaceted as a state aspiring to fulfillment be expressed in mere numbers? The university statisticians instead saw the state as a "being" (Wesen ), people as Volk , imbued with Volkgeist . The collective presupposed a social code based on spiritual and traditional values. People should not, could not be reduced to a factor of production; they were not the means to prosperity but its purpose.
As this colorful rhetoric may suggest, the university statisticians felt their position slipping out from under them. Deprived of more and more content as new specialties (political economy, geography, ethnology, and so on) broke away, university statistics began to wither away. As a political science it would be ruthlessly discredited by events during and after the French Revolution. University statistics, in failing to identify the popular discontent that found its voice and program in the Revolution, or to foresee that mighty Prussia would be trampled like a sand castle under the feet of Napoleon's troops, sounded its own death knell: "Nothing, nothing at all was achieved by the higher [university] statisticians."
The tables to which the German university statisticians objected were, or could be, instruments of political arithmetic. In England and Sweden, debate about the use of statistics centered explicitly on the program of quantitative social and economic analysis that descended from the work of William Petty and his contemporaries at the end of the 17th century.
William Petty was held in high esteem in circles populated by the likes of Robert Boyle, John Wallis, Samuel Hartlib, and Thomas Hobbes. Considered by Samuel Pepys "the most rational man that I ever heard speak with a tongue," Petty fit in well with the successful men of science who met in the Invisible College and the Royal Society. He dreamed of a perfectly rational society, a social edifice as stable and unassailable as a mathematical theorem. Each element had to be weighed, measured, and evaluated before it could be incorporated into this rational system. Petty made the point explicitly: "The Method I take. . .is not very usual; for instead of using only comparative and superlative Words, and intellectual Arguments, I have taken the course. . .to express myself in Terms of Number, Weight or Measure ; to use only Arguments of Sense, and to consider only such Causes, as have visible Foundations in Nature; leaving those that depend upon the mutable Minds, Opinions, Appetites, and Passions of particular Men."
Petty aimed at a science that used quantitative methods (counting and measuring) to isolate, describe, and analyze the elements that created a society's prosperity. Available observations of population, land, and resources—all in numerical form—were used in the calculation of values of other, as yet unknown, resources.
To reduce Petty himself to arithmetic, or rather geometry, his program lay at the intersection of inspiration of Baconian empiricism and Newtonian natural philosophy. He called for the assembly of individual measurements (of, for example, birth and mortality rates, work capacity, output, consumption, and fertility) to form a valid picture of a general reality. In practice, however, he often relied on estimates and averages; and his columns of numbers necessarily remained isolated from one another since correcting principles analogous to the law of gravity eluded him. Petty and his successors Gregory King and Charles D'Avenant framed a general program of social analysis based on computations and systematic collection of facts: "He who will pretend to Compute, must draw his Conclusions from many Premises; he must not argue from single Instances, but from a thorough view of many Particulars; and that Body of Political Arithmetick, which is to frame Schemes reduceable to Practise, must be compos'd of a great variety of Members."
The strong political context of political arithmetic may be discovered in a fight in Parliament over a proposal to provide it with one of its basic instruments. In 1753 advocates of a coherent program of social statistics, among them the mathematician James Dodson, called for a general census. But the census bill fell victim to strong opposition fed by fears of an expanding government. Five years later Parliament rejected a similar proposal for mandatory registration of births, marriages, and deaths. Prosperity appeared better served by capital, industry, and steam power than by the calculations of a power-hungry central government. Parliament thereby denied to proponents of political arithmetic both the means of collecting
data—the census and the registration of vital statistics—and the function intended by Petty and his contemporaries—that of a political instrument of scientific legitimacy.
That, of course, did not prevent private groups from compiling vital statistics for their political purposes. Republicans and religious dissenters picked up political arithmetic and wielded it to combat the "faithful guardians of the state" and reduce their authority. These advocates of local power counted local conditions as more significant than national aggregations of class, rank, and occupation. A good example is Richard Price's statistical studies of national debt and local prosperity based on data privately collected. Another is development of the work of John Graunt and Edmund Halley on the mathematical analysis of life expectancy. Graunt had demonstrated the utility of vital statistics for establishing the laws of demography; Halley's studies (published in 1693) of mortality lists from the city of Breslau had shown that generally valid calculations of life expectancy could be based on mathematical analysis of available, incomplete data on births and deaths. As a basis for calculating insurance premiums and annuities, quantitative data thus offered real practical value. By the second half of the 18th century, both governments and private investors recognized insurance ventures as a promising prospect. Price saw annuity societies, if guided by mathematicians, as a solution to England's economic ills.
While republicans and dissenters in England reserved political arithmetic for their own purposes and rejected its use as a tool of central government policy, Swedish officials sought a socioeconomic
strategy based on social measurement that might replace the capital and manpower the country had lost during long years of war. To remedy these ills, members of the Swedish parliament followed orthodox mercantilist lines based on the conception that population is the best measure of a nation's real riches. "A plenitude of poor people is a country's greatest wealth." In the mercantilist analysis a surplus of people meant a surplus of need, which would inspire economic initiative, industry, and cultivation of land. A Swedish economist of the time wrote, borrowing a line from D'Avenant, "It may be better for the people to suffer a shortage of land than for the land to suffer a shortage of people." The line symbolized a tie: in 18th-century Sweden, the old English idea of political arithmetic would enjoy political support, the notice of the Royal Academy of Sciences, an institutional platform in the parliament, and enthusiastic public backing. The key role of quantitative analysis in the Swedish debate on ways and means to national prosperity can be traced in pamphlets and programmes; in the Transactions of the Royal Academy of Sciences; in parish surveys, state memoranda, and confidential parliamentary reports.
In accord with the proposition that people attracted industry, rather than the reverse, colonization projects of all kinds, resettlement projects, and measures to stimulate population growth abounded in Sweden beginning in the 1730s. So, too, did optimism about the rate at which the population of Sweden might increase. Some fortune tellers saw a doubling in the space of twenty years. In the long run, the population of Sweden (which then included Finland) might reach ten, twenty, even thirty million inhabitants. (The actual population figures in the mid-18th century, not disclosed at the time, were closer to two million.) The mainstream of public
discussion overflowed with optimistic calculations from leading social theorists, and from reports submitted to the Riksdag by the Office of Tables.
How could these calculators arrive at such preposterous figures? In part, the optimism derived from conceptions of Sweden's great natural resources inherited from the patriotic historiography of the preceding century. In the years when Sweden was emerging as a great power, the country of the north was often depicted as the vagina gentium , the land chosen by the sons of Noah for its natural riches.
Mercantilism reinforced this patriotic tradition in a land of unexploited natural resources. "No man dares keep any land unusable and unfruitful, now and in the future, once he has seen the new ideas that can spring from ingenuity when spurred by need in a populous country," proclaimed the director of the Land Survey Board in 1758. In Sweden, all agreed, the good Lord had "let abundance drip from His footsteps." He had also arranged for an advantageous climate. The cold protected Sweden's populace from infectious diseases and made them "merry, lively, and manly." Snow on the ground prevented the evaporation of nutritious substances; once it melted, rotting leaves and needles gave way to rich humus soil. The woods teemed with useful game ("if anyone would seriously try to domesticate our elk, they might well become our camels"); lakes and rivers overflowed with salmon and other splendid fish, pearl-filled mollusks, oysters, and lobsters. Nonetheless, God's handiwork could be improved upon. "If wildernesses and wastes are cultivated, a whole new land can be created, even more fruitful, milder in climate, more pleasant in every way, rich and able to support and feed millions more people than today."
The language and the imagery were as rich as Sweden herself. But how to measure and master these natural resources? Political arithmetic offered a key to calculating Sweden's potential and devising a new strategy for growth and prosperity. For three decades, from 1740 to 1770, intense public debate would focus on the interpretation and application of political arithmetic. Three varieties of Swedish statistics emerged in these years: utopian, practical, and descriptive.
Swedish Statisticians at Work
Utopian statisticians regarded political arithmetic chiefly as a means of forecasting and calculating the prosperity they took for granted. Their method went back to Petty: a mixture of exact measures and approximations, the equation of human worth and capital value, and a willingness to mask imprecision with strings of decimal places.
The visionary statisticians put their program to work in quantitative parish surveys. Their Description of Lajhela Parish in Österbotten was explicitly intended as a model for similar surveys of all Sweden's parishes. The director of the Land Survey Board, E.O. Runeberg, drew up the plans and published the results in the Transactions of the Academy of Sciences for 1758–9. The report breaks down the area of the parish into exact figures for cultivated, cultivable, and uncultivable land; refines the analysis with a series of subdivisions; and specifies watercourses (numbers of lakes, rivers, streams, and springs) and roads (classed by degree of passability). It analyzes woodland ("450 trees on each tunnland [approximately 1.2 acres], yielding 36,733,120 trees in the parish") and animals ("there are 590 horses in the parish, 2,124 cows, 236 oxen, 944 young steers, 4,720 sheep, and 474 calves, [which] together total 9,086 head of livestock, fed over 7 months with 6,443 bales of hay at 7/10 bale a head").
The report includes details on the number of dwellings, barns, water mills, windmills, and so on, but excludes churches from the count as unproductive resources.
The descriptions had the higher purpose: making it possible to calculate the potential resources of the parish. Most striking in this regard was Runeberg's quantitative analysis of population. Averaging yielded a peculiar figure of 1,800 1/4 for the total population of the parish. Runeberg then analyzed the parish mortality and fertility rates. "In Lajhela 3.83 marriages, or for each marriage 3.83 years, are required to produce a child, but since the majority of children die, 9.15 marriages, or 9.15 years of each marriage, are required to increase the populace by one child." Runeberg found these figures all the more dispiriting when he computed from the parish's potential natural resources it could support 28,000 inhabitants.
Runeberg's most significant calculations addressed the parish's capacity for work. Like the political arithmeticians of the preceding century, Runeberg drew a clear distinction between a person and a worker . He set the highest value on a married workman (2,390.99 dalers), somewhat less on an unmarried workman, and even less on "a person in general," by which he meant an average value over the total population. A woman was assigned a capital value three-fourths that of a man. Then came children, divided by age group. Runeberg judged infants of negligible worth, since they required on average "one-fifth of a person in care and tending." They thus had to be reckoned as a debit equal to one-fifth of the full value of an adult. The reasoning went as follows: "If we assume that by the eighteenth year a youth is equivalent to a full adult workman, and that a child of common people does not begin to be of use until his ninth year, and that not until the eighteenth year has he atoned for all the inconvenience and damage he caused before his ninth year, then a youth can be seen as non-withdrawable capital, increased by the accrual of compound interest, which only begins to yield an annual return through simple interest after the eighteenth year. Thus if a youth is assigned a political value of 1,195 dalers at the eighteenth
year, he must be valued at 998.8 at the fifteenth, 746.3 at the tenth, 557.6 at the fifth, and 416.7 dalers in the cradle." On this basis, Runeberg reduced the value of the almost 2,000 inhabitants of the parish to that of 800 workers.
The report then presents the calculations in tabular form and compares actual and potential resources. Note the exactitude of the entries for what Runeberg called "political evaluation:"
Instead of gazing at distant vistas of great wealth, practical statisticians focused on the foreground of poverty and wretchedness, a country in crisis. To some observers the cause was obvious: serious imbalance between different sectors of the economy. The solution seemed equally clear: restore the balance, guided by measurement, counting, and calculation. Here quantification acquired an instrumental function. Quantitative data served as the foundation for functional social models, which could then be translated into immediate political action. Like utopian statistics, practical statistics aimed at improving society, not merely describing it.
The basis of practical statistics lay in the doctrine of proportions. As prescribed in the biblical text, all things are ordered by measure and number and weight. A social order called for well-defined harmony and balance among population, land, industry, and so on; and the definition of harmony rested on number. The task at hand was to measure social and economic components, compare them to the ideal, and shift and alter the components to achieve the desired harmony.
The leading advocate of practical statistics was Anders Berch, a professor of economics at Uppsala University. As a representative of the ruling party in the Riksdag (the party known as "the Hats"), Berch was strongly influenced by mercantilism. The title of his Politisk arithmetica (1746) shows where he stood. His ambition was to establish political arithmetic as a science; then and only then could a solid, exact economic policy be constructed. The transformation of social analysis into social strategy required four clearly defined stages.
The first stage was to uncover and understand the omniscient Creator's plan for a world in perfect balance. In the ideal state, everything would stand in harmonious proportion: population to area, economic activity to natural resources, production to consumption, men to women, and the duration of human life to "the supply of all human need." Next came measurement and collection of data—quantitative analysis of the present state of society. Anything and everything was to be measured: people, land, natural resources, productivity, efficiency, and consumption. A crucial factor was human productive capacity, which required careful assessment of the results of work in terms of time expended. A sufficiently broad base of calculations and data could overcome individual variations and yield an accurate value for the country's work force as a whole.
The data gathered would inevitably reveal imbalance in respect to the ideal proportions. The third stage was thus to calculate and balance every conceivable factor affecting the nation's capital strength against every other: people, agriculture, industry, and trade. The practical statistician used computations and estimates to settle on the suitable production of offspring or consumption of aquavit for a stated number of cities or of farmhands per farm. He also needed to
balance the costs of war against the value of war booty, and the expense of ambassadorial travel against diplomatic advantage.
In his insistence on the fourth and final stage of implementation, Berch showed his perception of the gulf between theory and practice, or calculation and political action. He criticized political arithmetic in England, which had been allowed to remain the preserve of scientific circles and never approached implementation. Graunt, Petty, and D'Avenant also came in for rebuke for their narrowness of vision; in their hands measurement broke down into fragments without consistency or system. The grandeur of the Swedish program lay in the intent to make of quantitative social analysis an instrument for regulating the whole economy.
Berch's dream of a fully planned economy was founded on a faith in the state and its officials and a presumption of the loyalty of individuals to a powerful state. Once the data were put in the hands of the authorities and the balances struck, laws and ordinances would oblige individuals to distribute themselves and their resources to conform with the proposed model for prosperity. Slowly but surely a new social edifice would emerge. But what if all attempts to force the data into tabular form failed? How then to derive mathematical formulas for prosperity? Realization of the difficulties inherent in practical statistics prompted some to retreat to a less ambitious enterprise. For them, "statistics" meant the art of compiling and processing numerical information, with no purpose beyond the figures themselves.
The leading representative of descriptive statistics was the astronomer Pehr Wilhelm Wargentin, long-time secretary of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, who played an instrumental role in securing an institutional base for Swedish statistics. Descriptive statistics had as its objective to reveal, describe, and interpret data, but not to prescribe how the data might be used. In parallel with the limitation of its aims, descriptive statistics came to be confined to a subject where data might be gathered without insuperable difficulty—to population studies. Slowly, sound and methodologically conscious
population statistics began to squeeze out the extravagant attempts at precision and the lofty social aspirations of utopian and practical statistics. By the 1770s, population statistics would become the only type of statistical work undertaken in Sweden.
The general outlines of the growth of Swedish population statistics are well known. In 1749 influential Swedish mercantilists and the Academy of Sciences succeeded in their campaign to establish an Office of Tables (which would become the Central Bureau of Statistics in 1858). Parish priests were required annually to complete printed forms reporting the numbers of births (classed by sex), deaths (by sex, age, and cause), and marriages, as well as the total population (by age, sex, estate, and occupation) for the parish. The tables were forwarded through a series of governmental agencies to the Commission of Tables, whose task was to summarize the results and transmit them to the Riksdag and the king. The Office of Tables thereby compiled the first set of population statistics in the world based on regular counts of total population. An efficient parish registration system that did not miss a single soul, a permanent institutional base, and a population unusual for its ethnic and religious homogeneity, disciplined by an established church with ample opportunity to exercise formal and informal control, contributed to the success of the venture.
But the very success of the Office of Tables represented a retreat from larger ambitions. Its reason for existence derived from the central importance of population in the mercantilist program, but population studies alone were only part of the social analysis urged by the utopian and practical statisticians.
Initially, the staff of the Office of Tables shared the optimism of other statisticians. In particular, the Commission of Tables (dominated by statisticians and civil servants) dreamed of a gigantic survey of all components of the economy. Collated, combined, and
compared, the numbers and tables would constitute a map of Sweden's resources, strengths, and weaknesses, and provide the political authorities with an effective instrument for governing the country. This ambitious program is evident in the highly secret reports delivered by the Commission to the Riksdag and the king in 1755, 1761, and 1765. Mind-boggling arrays of figures classified Sweden's population under a total of sixty-one headings; virtually all individuals were linked to their work and capital-producing capacities.
In their aim, these reports appear to be a faithful application of political arithmetic. Individuals were assigned categories according to their economic and hence political value to the state. First came providers, then consumers, and finally a category of wholly "superfluous members" (notably tavern staff and servants) numbering 10,336. The figure for emigration—8,059 in 1761—is just as precise; when converted into value using the methods of utopian statistics, it represented an annual capital loss to Sweden of 9 1/2 million dalers. When the potential of the emigrants to produce offspring was figured in, the loss amounted to no less than 19 million dalers.
At first the Swedish parliament showed much interest in the data and their implications. It appointed commissions and ordered certain reforms, especially in the medical field. Soon, however, the initiatives were tabled or defeated. Decisions disappeared mysteriously en route to the king for implementation. The important table of estates and occupations was originally required annually. But already in the 1750s the requirement was changed to reporting once every three years; later this was reduced to once every five years. Quantitative analysis of natural data like births and deaths remained noncontroversial, but attempts to derive social diagnosis or prescribe social therapy from the figures excited objections. Political arithmetic fell out of favor as a political instrument. With the constitution of 1772, parliamentary reponsibility for the Office of Tables formally ceased.
As officials lost enthusiasm for statistics, so too did advocates of descriptive statistics rebel against the use of their subject as an
instrument of state power. For fifteen years, population information, broken down by estate, occupation, and age group, had been kept under wraps by the Office on Tables. During the early 1760s this suppression of population figures as a state secret occasioned heated debate. Only in 1764 was the official population of Sweden (2,383,113) first disclosed. Before long the detailed information underlying the estimate was available for study by anyone who wanted it. As the gap between statistics and state widened, statistics had the opportunity to develop independently of power interests or practical applications. A gradual drop in the number of references in the Academy's Transactions to practical political aspects of statistics reflects this shift.
A quantitative social science was born of high hopes that social phenomena could be studied with the same precision as natural phenomena, yielding exact knowledge applicable in practical and political contexts. Yet the 18th-century conviction that the methods of natural science could be made to apply to all fields of knowledge hesitated at the crossroads of theoretical and practical goals in political economy.
The practical obstacles were daunting. Efficient collection and utilization of data required not only a firm institutional base (such as political arithmetic enjoyed in Sweden), but also workable methods for reducing masses of information to manageable and functional tables. How were consumption, efficiency, or the utility of diplomacy to be assessed and expressed in numerical terms? How were soil quality, popular morale, or unexploited natural resources to be set down in tables? The ambition to embrace society in its entirety overreached the practical limitations of 18th-century quantitative analysis.
The relationship between state and statistics in the 18th century was a complicated one. The more closely the quantitative method was linked to the interests of the state and the more obviously its political function was defined, the greater the danger that the method itself would be undermined. If the practical application of a science normally strengthens its empirical character, here the opposite seems to prevail. In England the quantitative method strayed from empiricism as it became more closely identified with a national strategy for prosperity. In the state-directed, accelerated program for progress in Sweden, quantitative social analysis slipped into a rut of utopianism that led nowhere. Only by reducing its field of operation to vital statistics did quantitative social analysis meet with success. In Germany, the development of a quantitative approach was contingent upon freeing statistics from the ideology of the state.
In England and Sweden, mercantilism had fostered a mechanistic view of society that favored quantitative social analysis. As society was broken down into its material components of population, resources, industry, and so on, so the populace was composed of faceless, voiceless atoms. The quantitative program further reduced the individual to an equivalence in work or capital value. In Germany, where cameralism, not mercantilism, held sway, more complex concepts of Land and Leute argued against the reduction of social well-being to a set of material components or the reduction of human beings to interchangeable particles.
It is noteworthy that social statistics on the quantitative, English model reached a zenith in Sweden around 1750, just when Swedish natural science was flourishing. Thus in 18th-century Sweden, as in 17th-century England, quantitative social science grew in the same soil as a vigorous and prestigious natural science.