Monthly Archives: July 2012

Kate Allen

With the ONS publishing the results of its latest attempt to measure British people’s wellbeing, it’s worth a quick recap of how this compares to other countries’ methods as the collection of international wellbeing data is at an early stage.

Whilst the OECD is in the process of developing guidance to harmonise standards and approaches, existing surveys – including the World Values Survey, the European Social Survey and the Gallup World Poll – vary in approaches.

The ONS questions combined short-term measures with longer-term, more reflective indicators, on a scale of 0-10.

Gallup asks people to rate the quality of their life on a scale of 0-10, while the ESS and the WVS both ask respondents how satisfied they are with their life as a whole, again on a scale of 0-10. They also ask how happy they are, with the ESS again using a 11-point scale and the WVS offering a phrase-based menu of choices. Read more

Chris Cook

Last week, the FT published an interview with Sir Michael Wilshaw. Lots of interviewees, especially in public policy, are very guarded. Sir Michael is not. This may give his press handlers nightmares, but everyone should welcome it. This is for educationally minded people more than data nerds, but I thought I’d put up some more of his thoughts.

I’ll not publish the whole thing yet (there are a few things we discussed that I intend to return to). So this is still a highlights package. First, a few shorter snippets. It’s very striking how often London Challenge, a policy to improve schools in the capital, came up. Sir Michael, who rose to prominence as a London head teacher, kept praising that policy. For example, speaking about the north, he said:

What is it about those areas like Hull and Grimsby and North Lincolnshire that prevents those youngsters doing well? Some of it is quite honestly a political failure where we’ve known that these areas were failing for a number of years and if local politicians really want to address this, they can put pressure on both schools, local authorities, the department for education to do something about this. We’ve shown through London Challenge what can be done in London. London is certainly… and I’ve been a London teacher all my life. It wasn’t a good place to be in the 70s and 80s and 90s; now it’s one of the top performing parts of the country through London Challenge. Same happened in Manchester. So, why can’t we do that in these areas?

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The beautiful game is about to get a bit more by the numbers. Starting in 2013 the US soccer league – Major League Soccer – will begin using Adidas’ micoach elite system, which will track “heart rate, speed, acceleration, distance, field position and, for the first time, power.”

The data be collected in real time and transmitted wirelessly for in-game analysis and fans will have access to the raw numbers as well – meaning pub debates could get a lot more interesting in the future.

The sports data analysis revolution that took hold first in US baseball and has crept in to basketball has left football (or in the US, soccer) relatively untouched. Most stats haven’t changed much since categories like shots, fouls and passes completed. Read more

European banks have reduced their loan exposure in the US in the past few years as contagion fears hit investment appetite. The following interactive graphic shows how these loan portfolios ballooned in the months leading up to the crisis and then were pulled back in the months and years following the financial crisis.

Kate Allen

The steady improvement in the number of fatal injuries in UK workplaces appears to have tailed off, according to data recently-released to the FT by the Health & Safety Executive*.

173 workers were killed on the job in 2011/12, a rate of 0.6 deaths per 100,000 workers.

Taking into account chance variation, the overall trend suggests that death rates have plateaued since 2008 after a decade of downward trend.

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Calculating the economic impact of the Olympics is a Herculean task with different meanings for different authors. At its most basic, some try to estimate the effect on national output of staging the games and building the venues. More sophisticated studies attempt a proper economic cost-benefit analysis, in which the costs and benefits of building the infrastructure are measured as well as the costs and benefits of hosting the event. For London 2012, a sophisticated analysis has proved beyond most researchers.

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