Sunday, 14 December 2008

Moral hazard and statistics

For statistics to have any value for decisionmaking they need to be verified and checked for consistency and accuracy.

It is heartening to see Sir Michael Scholar, the head of the new statistics authority, rapping the Government's knuckles for overriding the concerns of the National Statistician and her staff and publishing unverified statistics for the decline of knife crime.

There is a lot of moral hazard in this area for politicians. They can select the statistics which suit their case, knowing that even a rebuke from Sir Michael will go unreported by the tabloids because it is all far too technical. The risk is that public confidence is further eroded in Government statistics - Sir Michael needs a regular platform, probably on the BBC where he can explain the use and abuse of statistics. Then the public will wise up to this kind of chicanery.

No comments: