Relative Magnitudes

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Relative Magnitudes


in statistics, quantitative measures of the relationship between two indexes that are being compared. Relative magnitudes are obtained by dividing one of the indexes by the others, which is taken as the basis of comparison. The forms in which relative magnitudes are expressed include coefficients (multiple ratios), percentages, and pro mille ratios, while concrete numbers (for example, number of inhabitants per sq km) are used in some cases. In his works, V. I. Lenin used relative magnitudes to analyze statistical data on agriculture, industry, and other branches of the economy.

In the USSR relative magnitudes are used to determine the level of plan fulfillment, to measure trends in the development of social phenomena and clarify the structure and distribution of these trends, and to compare different objects with one another. In keeping with these varied applications, relative magnitudes are subdivided into distinct types for, respectively, plan fulfillment, dynamics, structure, coordination, intensity, and comparison. The relative magnitude of plan fulfillment is the ratio of the actual value of an index to the planned value for the same period. A dynamic relative magnitude is derived by correlating the level of an index for a period being studied with its level for some preceding period; for example, the growth rate of the total volume of industrial output in the USSR in 1972 was 1,365 percent of 1940 and 106.5 percent of 1971 levels.

Structural relative magnitudes are calculated as the ratio of parts or groups of an aggregate to the whole aggregate; for example, the share of production of the means of production in the total volume of industrial output was 73.6 percent in 1972. Coordinating relative magnitudes describe the interrelations of parts of a single aggregate, for example, the number of auxiliary workers per 100 production workers. Relative magnitudes of intensity, or intensity rates, show the degree of development or distribution of phenomena in a given environment; they are the ratios of different but interrelated values, as in the expression of population density in number of inhabitants per sq km. Relative magnitudes of comparison, or ratios of comparison, represent the relationship between indexes for different instances of the same phenomenon; for example, the production of cast iron in the USSR in 1972 was 110 percent of US production of cast iron and 620 percent of British production. Relative magnitudes are used in Soviet statistical practice as an important tool for analyzing individual enterprises, sectors, and the national economy as a whole.


Lenin, V. I. Razvitie kapitalizma v Rossii. Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 3.
Kozlov, T. I., V. E. Ovsienko, and V. I. Smirnskii. Kurs obshchei teorii statistiki, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1965.
Obshchaia teoriia statistiki, 2nd ed. Edited by T. I. Kozlov. Moscow, 1967.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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