How Quantitative Methods of Data Analysis Can Contribute to Historical Analysis: The Example of the Stapfer Inquiry
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In 1799, the Ministry of Education led by Philipp Albert Stapfer gathered data on a large variety of issues concerning the education system in the Helvetic Republic. The main objective of this paper is to demonstrate how the Stapfer inquiry as a historical data source can be analyzed employing techniques of quantitative data analysis. Two research questions were considered: How did school fees and distance to school impact school attendance at the time? Before presenting analyses and results, strengths and limitations of the Stapfer inquiry from the historical and the social science perspective are discussed followed by a conceptual elaboration of the research issues. The database for our analysis is a sample drawn from the Stapfer inquiry that consists of 104 schools. Results show that whereas the existence of school fees does not seem to have had an impact, the distance to school had a negative impact on school attendance.