Data Points

Our curated feed of data stories in the FT and elsewhere

The global economic recovery “remains on life support”, according to Tracking Indices for the Global Economic Recovery, the Brookings Institution-Financial Times index of the world economy.

The Tiger index, which is designed to track the global recovery on a set of macroeconomic, financial and confidence variables, shows a weakening of growth momentum in the emerging markets as well as an anaemic recovery in advanced economies. Read more

Chris Cook

How would the Daily Mail react if a minister was asked to allow an able poor child extra tuition and deny help to a rich, less able child?  Read more

Chris Cook

New Hefce data show England is experiencing the start of a market in undergraduate places with a very sudden shock. Read more

Chris Cook

One curiosity which is often overlooked in social policy discussion is who actually pays which taxes. Today, the Chancellor said that his reforming Budget would create:

A tax system where millions of the lowest paid are lifted out of tax altogether

He is referring to the policy of raising the income tax threshold towards a target of £10,000. But it is a mistake to say people below that line will be “out of tax”. Here is a graph, based on table 14 of this ONS document, showing how the tax burden varies.

 Read more

Keith Fray

The popular and oft-quoted definition of a recession is two successive quarters or more of falling output, usually referred to as the ‘technical’ definition.

It is of course not really very ‘technical’ – and surprisingly is entirely unofficial. It is an easily measurable and easily understood rule of thumb that suits headlines rather than analysis. Read more

Chris Cook

Your birthday matters: children who are older when they start school as 4 year-olds outperform their peers. This is not a small effect, nor does it peter out as they get older. We can spot it easily at the national level among 16 year-olds. Read more

Chris Cook

The social mobility problem is not that there is a small number of weak schools serving a lot of poor kids. It is that poor children do badly in the majority of England’s schools. Read more

Martin Stabe

The retail sales indices published by the UK’s Office for National Statistics estimate retail sales values and volumes in Great Britain.

The January 2012 figures, published today, show a 4.4 per cent in sales values and a 2 per cent increase in sales volumes over January 2011. Read more

Carried out four times a year for the FT and The Economist by the Economist Intelligence Unit and based on interviews with more than 1,700 business executives around the world, the FT-Economist Global Business Barometer highlights the change in business sentiment and differences between regions and sectors.

A new military spending forecast from analysts at IHS Jane’s Defence suggests that China’s defence spending will accelerate substantially in the next three years.

This interactive graphic examines defence spending and gross domestic product growth in the region – as well as showing contextual numbers for the US – the world’s biggest spender on defence. Read more

Chris Cook

An article in the TES, an education magazine, has caused some consternation – and rightly so. In a comment piece, written by a teacher, the author appears to describe being irritated at a child who is determined to get an A grade rather than a B at A-level.

That is not what the government wants this teacher to be doing. We can tell that from the incentives that this sixth-form teacher faces. The author works at a sixth form college, and if that child fails to get an “A”, it will show up in his college’s results. Sixth forms are ranked on the average grade attained by their students, and pushing a kid from a B to an A shows up in the school point score.

Were this teacher teaching a 16 year-old, however, his behaviour would be perfectly rational. The central measure for schools is the proportion of children getting passes of a C or better in five full GCSEs including English and maths.

Both regulation and league tables drive focus on that measure. There are buckets of data that reveal schools which are particularly focussed on that borderline, but as long as schools do well enough in the core measure, heads can safely ignore everything else.

As Graham Stuart, Tory chair of the education select committee has said, this measure offers no reward for pressing a child to move from a C to an A. It is rational for teachers to focus on getting children over the D/C borderline.

This measure also creates problems for those of us who follow DfE statistics. Read more

Emily Cadman

Ever wondered what happened to the idea of a national happiness index, trailed by David Cameron last year?

Well, statisticians from the Office of National Statistics have been quietly working away on the project. In December the first set of initial analyses, based on a sample size of 4,200, concluded that three quarters of British adults rated their “life satisfaction” as seven or more out of 10. Read more