It’s impossible to know just how seriously to take the polling for the Scottish independence referendum. Pollsters haven’t had the same opportunity to calibrate their forecasts through trial and error while observers don’t have a past record to go on, and as we reported yesterday, there’s a lot of disagreement between them. Read more
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With housing never off the front pages, you’d expect housing statistics to be an area Britain would excel.
It turns out that isn’t quite the case.
Last November, in response to demands for a measure of inflation which included the costs of housing services associated with owning, maintaining and living in one’s own home, the ONS introduced a new index called the CPIH.
It used a measure called rental equivalence – the rent someone could expect to pay to live in an equivalent home – as a proxy for the costs faced by the owner.
But today, less than a year later, the UK Statistics Agency announced it has stripped the CPIH of status as an national statistic (the top rank of official statistics)* due to methodological concerns (PDF). Read more
The cover feature of this week’s Economist – bearing the headline “More bang for your buck” – explores how new technology is shaking up the world’s oldest profession.
Noting how specialist websites and apps are allowing “information to flow between buyer and seller”, the magazine has conducted an economic analysis of what this “wealth of data” reveals.
The Economist Intelligence Unit has crunched data on prostitutes’ prices, services and personal characteristics gleaned from an [anonymous] international website which hosts 190,000 profiles of female sex workers operating from 84 cities in 12 countries:
[Prostitution] turns out to be surprisingly similar to other service industries. Prostitutes’ personal characteristics and the services they offer influence the prices they charge; niche services attract a premium; and the internet is making it easier to work flexible hours and to forgo a middleman.
So what does this reveal? Read more
The One North report proposes to upgrade infrastructure in the north of England, focusing on links between five cities: Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield. One way of showing how well linked the five cities are is to look at commuter flows. This interactive graphic shows total flows between the five cities, based on data from the 2011 UK census. Read more
OK Cupid, an online dating site, has caused a bit of a stir recently about performing experiments on their users. But even without the ethical questions there’s reason to be skeptical about what their data can actually tell us.
Big Data, the book by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier, talks about two phenomena they believe will drive a big data revolution: ‘Digital exhaust’ and ‘N equals all’. The first refers to the trail of information we leave behind when using the internet that are the residue of clicks and typing. Read more