and Cyprus : Data resources on Former British Colonies” Malta
By Alexander Apostolides
Introduction: The status of National accounts in
and Cyprus Today Malta
Both National statistical offices were post-war institutions. The pre-cursors of the Maltese National Statistical Office (NSO) and the Cypriot Στατιστική Υπηρέσια (Υστατ) were established in 1947. The first national accounts were published in 1954 – but in
There were some attempts to estimate national income prior to 1954, but no effort none was sufficient or explicit enough in their methodology.
Other GDP estimates for sporadic years exist, especially for
Overall none of the above estimates provide their methodology in order to be able to reproduce their results. I have yet to find any GDP estimates of Maltese income prior to 1954.
My thesis plans to reduce the knowledge gap in the economic history of
I am currently concentrating in using published government sources of the time. Extensive archival work has also taken place in
The Data sources for
It is worth noting that it is not necessarily true that the availability and quality of data is greater as one gets closer in time to the first estimates of national income. During the first half of the twentieth century there were frequent changes in definitions, altering what was being measured. Some of these changes (for example the definition of a Dwelling in the 1947 Census) create rather than eliminate problems for HNA creation. The quality of data in
Being British dependencies, both
Accuracy of the censuses:
Occupation statistics underreport the gainfully employed population, as well as persons employed in agriculture. There is an even greater underreporting of women in employment, especially in the rural areas.
Examples of such underreporting can be found in the 1931 Census. Only 56% of the Male population is considered to be gainfully employed, with more than 11% of the male population in “Unknown Occupation” and 16% in “Persons without Occupation”. A staggeringly low percentage of the female population is considered to be gainfully employed (20%), with 35% of the female population in “Unknown Occupation” and 34% in “Persons without Occupation”.
The Maltese census questionnaire was given to every head of household to fill, subject to a fine if the questionnaire was not returned. Thus the probability for spurious answers was high, considering that over 60% of the population in
Thus any attempt to use occupation statistics derived from the censuses for HNA purposes should be treated with great caution. The data on occupation should be seen as indicative rather than definitive. In my own attempts to create HNAs I have avoided using occupation data as much as possible, but it seems that some use of the occupation data is necessary to estimate production in the service and handicraft sectors of the economy.
A majority of the questions asked by the census takers which are of interest for HNA construction are very similar over time. Significant improvements took place in the 1921, 1931 and 1946 census where additional questions on secondary occupation, housing and ownership were introduced. An example of such change is the change in the definition of what constitutes a dwelling in the 1921 and the 1946 census, which makes using 1946 data to calculate dwelling stock difficult. These improvements are not always compatible with previous censuses; thus care is needed in comparing census data over time.
New data tables were added in each census. By 1946 the Census was extensive and covered a large array of issues:
- Population (Population, Distribution, Birthplace, Religion, Mother-tongue, Sex and Age)
- Other Demographic Data (Mortality, Life expectancy, Conjugal Condition, Age of Marriage, Childbirths, Children per household)
- Literacy (Including Knowledge of English)
- Aliens and Infirmity
- Housing Accommodation and Housing Services (Dwellings, Rooms per dwelling, Type of Accommodation and type of Tenure, Domestic water sanitations and electricity)
- An agricultural Census (see below)
The 1948 Maltese Census did not look much different as most of the questions were similar. The largest difference between the Cypriot and the Maltese census was the lack of an agricultural census in
The Cypriot Agriculture census provides information about farm holding sizes, irrigated land, crop bearing trees (especially carob and olive yields) and other agricultural yields not covered by the statistical Blue books (aniseed and cherries). The 1946 census also provides a historical perspective; it offers a four-year moving average of prices and output for the ten most important agricultural products of
Going further back in time the basic categories of population, literacy, age, aliens, infirmity and dwellings are given, but less information is given both in terms of detail as well as in terms of breakdown.
By far the most important source of data for
The Colonial blue books combine data from all government departments into one published source, and were published yearly. Some of the sections most relevant to HNA construction are listed below. The sections numbering is from the 1931 Cyprus Blue; the Maltese Blue book of 1931 is similar except it has an additional section on military expenditure as the last section. Blue books prior to 1921 have fewer sections, but most of the information relevant to HNA creation is present.
Section 1: Taxes Duties and other sources of revenue
· A detailed description of every tax, duty or fee levied by the government. i.e. Barley duty: 3 copper piastres to the counterweight. (1 copper piaster to a penny)
Section 3: Government Revenue and Expenditure (comparing why it rose or fell)
· Comparing each tax with the revenue of the previous year and stating the cause of decrease. i.e. Import duties decreased by £51263 in 1931 due to the “general trade depression and decline in commodity prices”
Section 7: Municipal corporations and other Public Bodies
· Revenue and expenditure of each municipal body
Section 8: Public Works
· Expenditure in roads, public buildings and harbours
Section 12: Civil Establishment
· The position and wage of all permanent staff in government.
Section 15: Population and Vital Statistics
· Based on the latest census figures, the government estimated persons employed by sub-district in agriculture, manufacture or commerce. Also provides number of people who came and left the island, an estimate of the total population and infantile mortality in districts and towns.
Section 19: Currency, Banking, Weights and Measures
· List of gold, silver and bronze coin in circulation as well as paper money in circulation. There is a list of every bank operational in
Section 20: Imports and Exports
· Statement of value and quantity imported and exported, as well as the duty or tariff collected (per item). This is specific to product and by country – an all together exhaustive account of yearly imports and exports.
Section 21: Shipping
· Number, tonnage, and crews of vessels entered and cleared (separated into steam ships and sailing vessels). This is broken down by country of destination and by country of ownership. The section includes ships involved in the coasting trade in a separate table.
Section 22: Production and Natural Resources
· This is by far the most important section in terms of creating HNAs. This section provides the acres and quantity produces for the 9 most important crops. After 1931 this expands to include a total of 26 crops, effectively encompassing all cultivated crop production. The only significant exceptions are in the production of carobs, olives and olive oil, wine (although the quantity of grape quantity produced is provided from 1931) and citrus fruits.
· This section also provides the annual number of livestock, and the yield of animal produce (except meat) and their average farm value.
· It provides detailed forestry and fishery information.
· It provides mining information such as and the total value of ore as well as its metallic content.
· It provides a list of the most important industrial establishments; the number of persons employed the cost of raw material uses, the output produced and the net selling value (prices at the factory door).
This is by far the most important section of the blue book. The basis of my HNA creation effort will be based on this information.
Section 23: Labour Wages and cost of living
· It provides the average wage rates for several jobs including domestic service
· It provides for the average, maximum and minimum retail price of staple articles of consumption in the capital (
· It provides the average monthly export rates (f.o.b) of staple products of the country
Section 30: Savings Banks and Friendly Societies
· Provides a list of Savings banks and Co-operative societies with the authorised capital and the value of their deposits
Section 32: Railways, Tramways, Steamship services, Roads, Motor Transport
· It provides through cost and revenue of publicly run Railroads and tramways, as well as the numbers of cars registered and road mileage available to road traffic.
Section 33: Post, Telegraph and Telephone statistics
· Provides detailed revenue of cost and volume of letters, telegrams, and calls.
Most importantly, the blue books already provide enough information for volume estimates to be created for agriculture, forestry, fishing, mining and manufacturing. In the case of manufacturing value added estimates are provided from 1931 onwards.
The blue books are by far the most extensive yearly data source on
The greatest weakness of the blue books is the lack of information on prices and wages. Despite some information on the highest, lowest and average prices of staple goods in the islands’ capitals, as well as some information on wages, there is not enough price data to be able to create good deflators. A cost of living index was not introduced in
In the Cypriot government archive, I found handwritten and thus unpublished Blue books for 1941, 1944 and 1946. They provide information on production, wages, and government revenue during the war, thus allowing for an understanding of the economy and possible HNA creation at a time of complete lack of data publication.
Annual Colonial Reports
The annual colonial report is a valuable yearly overview of the situation in a colony for the given year. Its highest value is its provision of a qualitative feel of how the economic situation of the island was perceived by the colonial bureaucrats. A yearly estimate of population, as well as birth and death rates is provided. The derivation of yearly estimate on population is unclear; comparing it to the population returns in census years, the government estimate has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5%. There is no actual data on migration, but some data on permissions issued to enter and exit the island are provided. However an attempt to estimate the population of
Some sporadic data on tourism are also given, but again without explanation on how the data was derived. Some sporadic data on costs to British officials staying in
Annual reports of Government Departments
Every government department published an annual report covering a wide range of issues as an annual review; the yearly statistical blue book and the annual colonial reports are effectively based on these reports. Some, such as the customs and excise annual report, do not provide any additional information not accounted in the blue books. Others, such as the Mining commissioners yearly report, the Agricultural department report and the public works department report provide valuable information excluded from the blue books. Unfortunately although published, such reports were not necessarily saved by libraries; however for most years the original manuscript is in the respective national archive.
Information provided includes the cost of construction of roads per mile, the monthly wage rate of workers per district, a bi-annual livestock survey, and some sporadic estimates of value added in agriculture and mining. As with the basic categories of expenditure, cost and wages per department are given. However as one goes further back in time less information is given both in terms of detail as well as in of breakdown. Also some information is not collected until a relevant government department is set up, as was the case for the mining department in
One-off Government Publications
Other important data sources for
Archive work and other possible sources
The Archives in
Other possible sources of data for HNA estimation includes tax data. I have not yet looked into this in detail; but the lack of income tax in both
Taxation data published in the blue books and in the annual report of the Land Registration and Survey department might allow calculations is estimating the capital stock, especially since property tax was based on early modern period laws, which counted all property, including orchards, as taxable property.
The British colonial era in
Since the first attempt in establishing HNAs for
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Christodoulou, D., 1992, Inside the
Dean, P., 1948, Colonial National Incomes: An experiment
Georghalides, G., 1979, A political and Administrative History of
Kostellenos, G. C., 1995 Money and Output in Modern
Maddison, A., 1995, Monitoring the World Economy
Oakden, Sir Ralph, 1934, Report of the finances and economic resources of
Prados de la Escosura, L., 1993,
Surridge, B. J. A Survey of Rural Life in
Veropoulou, 1997, The Demography of Cyprus Ph D. London School of Economics
Maddison Angus, World Population, GDP and Per Capita GDP, 1- 2003 AD: http://www.ggdc.net/maddison
National Statistical Office,
 The experiment involved estimating national accounts for Nyasaland, Jamaica and Northern Rhodesia; however due to standardisation of basic published statistical material as demanded by the colonial office, the published material used in this exercise also exists for Cyprus and Malta.