The Lay of the Land: Information Capacity and the Modern State

Research output: Working paper


Relying on three new indicators of the information capacity of states, this paper provides new evidence on the ability of states to collect and process information about the territories and populations that they govern. The three indicators are (a) the availability of a reliable census, (b) the establishment of a permanent government agency tasked with processing statistical information about the territory and the population, and (c) the regular release of statistical yearbooks. We find, as expected, that there has been a secular increase in information capacity over time. We also investigate salient differences among countries from the early 1800s onward.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science (excluding Public Administration Studies and Globalization Studies)


  • state, Information capacity, census, census data, statistical analysis, territory, Population, government agency, statistical yearbook, 19th and 20th century
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLund
PublisherDepartment of Political Science, Lund University
Number of pages30
Publication statusPublished - 2016 May
Publication categoryResearch

Publication series

NameSTANCE Working Paper Series

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