Rice, Stuart Arthur

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Stuart Arthur RICE

b. 21 November 1889 - d. 4 June 1969

Summary. Rice, American sociologist and statistician, set up and headed the Office of Statistical Standards in the then U.S. Bureau of the Budget in the 1930s.

Stuart A. Rice was born in Minnesota and attended the University of Washington (BA, 1912; MA, 1915). After graduating from college he was active in local politics in Washington state, and worked for the Washington State Industrial Welfare Commission and the New York City Department of Public Charities. He received his PhD training in Sociology (1924) at Columbia University under Franklin Giddings, and taught at Dartmouth College (1923-26) and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School from 1926 to 1933. He was Research Secretary for Social Statistics for the Social Science Research Council in 1931-32 and was a visiting professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago in 1932-33. His major work during the period was in the area of voting studies and survey research methods. He published Quantitative Methods in Politics in 1928, was a major contributor to the President's Commission on Recent Social Trends, edited several important collections of essays for the Social Science Research Council on innovations in research methods, particularly Methods in Social Science: A Case Book (1931), and in 1933 was elected President of the American Statistical Association.

In his academic work, Rice was especially concerned with improving the methodology of social science, in particular in the study of politics. As he noted in his first chapter in Quantitative Methods in Politics (p. 5), when he began his study, there was ``no present book known to the writer dealing with political statistics as a separate groups of applications of statistical principles," His ``aim" therefore was ``to demonstrate in some parts of the political field the possibilities of obtaining by quantitative procedure more exact statements of situation or relationship than have hitherto been secured." Clearly drawing his inspiration to the breakthroughs in inferential statistics of his day, he baldly stated his ``point of view" as ``determinstic, inductive, and to a considerable extent experimental." The later developments in political science have borne out his initial goals.

In the early 1930s Rice was drawn into the new administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He became Assistant Director of the Bureau of the Census in 1933, and from that point until the 1950s, his major contributions to statistics were in the realm of modernizing government statistical practice. He fostered the development of COGSIS (Committee on Government Statistics and Information Services) and served as its Acting Chairman, and worked to bring modern techniques of survey sampling and mathematical statistics to federal agencies. In 1936 he moved from the Census Bureau to chair the newly created Central Statistical Board, an agency which had been recommended by COGSIS. In 1940 the Central Statistical Board was restructured as the Division (later Office) of Statistical Standards in the Bureau of the Budget (now Office of Management and Budget) and Rice became the Assistant Director for Statistical Standards in the Budget Bureau. In these capacities he created the forms clearance procedures and built the oversight office that became the hallmark of federal statistical planning. During the Second World War, while Director of Statistical Standards, he fostered the development of the Inter-American Statistical Institute. He helped establish the Statistical Office of the United Nations and served as the first Chairman of the UN Statistical Commission. He made major efforts to improve the statistical services of countries around the world, particularly Japan and Korea. He remained in his post at the Bureau of the Budget until he was forced into mandatory retirement in 1955. He went on the found Stuart A. Rice Associates (later Surveys & Research Corporation), a statistical consulting firm with contracts with government and private profit and nonprofit agencies around the world. Rice retired once again in the mid 1960s and died in 1969.


[1] Rice, Stuart, (1928). Quantitative Methods in Politics. Russell and Russell, New York.
[2] Rice, Stuart, ed., (1930). Statistics in Social Studies University of Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia. Compiled for the Committee on Social Statistics of the American Statistical Association.
[3] Rice, Stuart, ed., (1931). Methods in Social Science: A Case Book. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
[4] Rice, Stuart, (1934). Statistical Opportunities and Responsibilites. Journal of the American Statistical Association, 29, 1-10. This is his presidential address to ASA.
[5] For his papers see the Stuart Rice Papers, Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, Independence, Missouri.

Reprinted with permission from Christopher Charles Heyde and Eugene William Seneta (Editors), Statisticians of the Centuries, Springer-Verlag Inc., New York, USA.

How to Cite This Entry:
Rice, Stuart Arthur. Encyclopedia of Mathematics. URL:,_Stuart_Arthur&oldid=39252