6 thoughts on “The RSS “statistic of the year” is absolute bunk”

  1. Posted 30/12/2019 at 13:42 | Permalink

    Another factor is that the figures for the lowest income decile are unrepresentative of the real situation of many people. This is because there is a proportion of low income households that are not poor at all because they have substantial assets even thought their income may be low.
    This is borne out by the fact that the lowest income decile consistently spend more than their income.

  2. Posted 30/12/2019 at 17:36 | Permalink

    You are right. I made a similar point last year when the IPPR trotted out a variant of this statistic. I also made the point that in-work poverty has assumed arithmetically greater significance simply because poverty amongst pensioners has fallen sharply.

  3. Posted 01/01/2020 at 23:31 | Permalink

    I am a fellow of the Royal Statistical Society as it happens. In past years, a report like this would have been ridiculed in a special column that its monthly bulletin used to have on the misuse of statistics. The relevant figure is not the % of people in poverty who are in work but the probability of being in poverty if you are in work or out of work respectively. If there were only 10 people in the country out of work and all were in poverty and 50,000,000 people in work and 11 of them were in poverty you would, roughly speaking, get to the RSS stat.

  4. Posted 03/01/2020 at 01:52 | Permalink

    My economy strategy will boom the economy create jobs and save the public $4,000 – $12,000+ pa in 2 years time. In 12 years we can save $18,000 – $40,000 pa…READ BELOW!

    The EU & U.K have a carbon tax. The U.K carbon tax brings in $80 billion pa….Do below to go green then use the tax money to save the public money.

    The EU & UK can use the tax money and AU can reinstate the carbon tax and big biz tax and make $90b U.K & AU $45b dollars pa. Now we build that much money on safe underground nuclear power plants.

    Underground power plants can blow up and no radioactive crap gets in the air hurting us. A huge water pipe runs water down then huge pumps pump it up. We Can have safety back up water tanks underground in case the pump and 2 back up pumps fail. Have a empty tank on one side so it has the water to safety shut it down and store if pumps fail……Now going nuclear green is safe.
    Each nuclear power plant cost $6 billion dollars and only cost $40 million to replace the core every 18 months.
    The gov must spend in U.K $90 billion & AU $35 billion on nuclear power plants then self fund running cost and future rise in running cost like this below.

    First AU put $14 billion dollars in a banks safe interest fund that will make $900 million dollars pa. 5 big states need $40 million pa on running cost = $200 million leaving $700 million dollars leftover. The $700 million left over every year will make $42 million every year. Now each states power plant can have a $8.3 million dollar rise in running cost pa for life “or” $83 million dollar rise in cost every 10 years…..Self funded for life.

    Now the gov can’t sell the plant because power is free and future rise in cost is none.
    A carbon tax and big biz tax can now self fund public cost like water bills, rego, council rates and everything.

    In 12 years time the public would save $18 – $40+k pa.

    Self funding the power and water department save the poor public $4k in 2 years and rich that get bigger bills and more usage $4 – $10+k pa. House council rate go by house prices so once again the rich save more but poor save thousands more every year.

    In the end the banks getting the mass billion to bypass GDP debt at first spend the interest money on infrastructure projects also. After that we do this to pay back debt.

    Ok AU debt is huge at $600 billion dollars…..U.K debt is like $60 billion. After 6 years the public save $7k poor and mind and wealthy $14k. The fed gov does a one off tax of all that money for 2 years = 15 million *14,000 =? ” wealthy & rich” 12 million * $28,000 =? Debt paid back.

    After 12 years the gov starts a huge tax taking 50% of the saved money. Now work wages can be cut by $450+ dollars a week and we boom with jobs and boom with wealth.

    Any problems?

  5. Posted 09/01/2020 at 12:01 | Permalink

    I sent this email to the president of the Royal Statistical Society and have not received an acknowledgement or reply:
    Dear Professor Ashby
    I thought I would drop you a line to express my surprise about the RSS statistics of the year competition result (https://www.statslife.org.uk/news/4393-statistics-of-the-year-2019-winners-announced). For many years, when I was first a fellow, the RSS magazine had a column called “Forsooth” in which it ridiculed the mis-use of statistics by non-statisticians. I think that the RSS statistic of the year would have made an appearance in that column if it still existed.
    There is widespread discussion about the misuse of the “percentage in poverty who are in work” figure which tells you nothing about the percentage of people who are in work who are in poverty or the differential probabilities of being in poverty if you are in work or out of work. Yet is seems that the RSS competition result simply reflects misleading and widespread coverage of a statistic which in itself proves nothing.
    Putting aside the validity of the relative poverty measure which is certainly widely disputed, the 58 per cent figure (proportion of poor in households where somebody works) includes households with no one in full-time work and just one or more person in part-time work. Those households where all adults are in full-time work account for only 10 per cent of those classified as being in relative poverty. The crucial statistics are that 8 per cent of households were all adults are in full-time work are in relative poverty compared with 74 per cent where one or more person is unemployed: this is an enormous difference between the probabilities of being in poverty if your household is fully employed as compared with having one or more adult who is workless. This is the relevant comparison.
    RSS judge and executive director, Hetan Shah commented: “Policymakers have focused on work as the best route out of poverty, but our winning statistic shows that this will not be enough to eradicate the scourge of poverty in the UK.” This may or may not be the case, but the statistic certainly does not show this.
    What has happened since 1997 is that there has been a huge reduction in pensioner poverty (generally households with nobody in work) and a huge increase in households (especially single parent households) where some work rather than no work is done. Both of these are positive trends. The second of these trends has meant that the number of workless households containing people of working age has shrunk dramatically. The first of these trends has meant that the number of poor people in workless households above pension age has shrunk dramatically. The combination of these trends means that it is possible for the probability of somebody being in poverty if they are in a workless household of working age, to be hugely bigger than the probability of somebody being in poverty if at least one person is working full time whilst, at the same time, the proportion of poor people who are in households where some work is being done has increased significantly.
    This is the kind of analysis that I would have expected the RSS to have undertaken in the past when other groups publicised meaningless statistics (it probably obtained a reputation for being somewhat patronising for doing so!).
    I hope these comments on the competition are welcome as they are meant to be constructive. I do think it is important for the RSS to be unpacking statistics so that the public can get beneath the misleading impression given by the headlines. However, on this occasion the competition seems to have done the opposite.
    Best wishes
    Philip Booth

  6. Posted 09/01/2020 at 23:48 | Permalink

    I have now received an acknowledgement which was very constructive.


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