UK

By John Burn-Murdoch and Aleksandra Wisniewska

Scotland voted on Thursday to remain in the United Kingdom, with the pro-union camp securing 55.3 per cent of the vote. Read more


Based on the voter registration data and the Press Association’s estimated declaration times, here is an approximate timetable of what to expect during the night of the count Read more

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

In news that will delight statisticians everywhere the distinction between the mean and the median finally has the political profile it deserves.

Yesterday Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK statistical authority, wrote a letter clarifying an ongoing debate between Labour and Conservative politicians on waiting times in accident and emergency rooms. Read more

So the UK economy grew 0.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2014, leaving output on this preliminary estimate at just about the previous peak set in Q1 2008, over six years ago. For an economy that produces almost £400bn a quarter in gross domestic product, exceeding the previous peak by £752m is really small beer, as our first chart below the break shows.

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Keith Fray

The UK economy has finally recovered. Today’s estimate by the Office for National Statistics of gross domestic product for the second quarter takes output (adjusted for inflation) to a new high, above the level of the first quarter of 2008*.

Hurrah. But, although welcome, this is nothing to celebrate. The government will not be ordering church bells to be rung. That the sum total of everything produced in the economy is only now returning to the levels of six years ago is astonishing. To give some context, the recession and recovery have lasted about nine months longer than the second world war. Read more

Since 2008, the Tier 1 (General) visa has allowed 33,756 people to come to the UK as highly skilled migrants. They brought 47,535 dependents with them.

On December 22nd, 2010, the visa route was closed to new overseas applicants.

For those who came to the UK on this visa and have been here for five years, there is one last test to pass in order to be allowed to stay in the UK indefinitely – without further visa restrictions.

Would you qualify to stay in the UK as a highly skilled migrant?

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The 2013 British Social Attitude survey, released today, mainly focuses on questions of national identity and alongside asking everyone about questions on immigration and Britishness, asks Scots specifically a set of questions about their attitudes to nationhood and independence. Read more

As an aid to debates about the referendum on whether Scotland should be independent from the UK, Britain’s Office for National Statistics has published a compendium that allows for comparisons to be made between the four countries of the UK.

Thanks, in part, to devolution, the UK has four organisations that produce official statistics: the Office for National Statistics, the Scottish Government, StatsWales and the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency who all release different surveys that gather data in different ways.

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The Office for National Statistics has, for the first time, included estimates of the impact of prostitution and illegal drugs in the national accounts. By the ONS’ reckoning they add about £10bn to the British economy.

Estimates of anything to do with the black economy are always going to be uncertain at best, but the statistics available are pretty interesting. Read more

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Voters will go to the polls in all 32 London boroughs, 36 metropolitan authorities and handful of other councils on May 22. This interactive map and cartogram shows the current state of parties in the local authorities holding elections, and some of the possible scenarios for the elections’ outcomes.

Before a measure of inequality can be calculated there are some questions that need to be answered: Chiefly, equality of what? Living standards? Wealth? Income? Or, perhaps, opportunity?

And what do you include? Is income measured before tax and benefits, or after? Do you include public goods in measures of living standards? How do you account for public assets and debts in wealth?

And who are the relevant people? The whole world or one country? Do you include students and children or just adults of working age?

The level of inequality measured will always depend on how these questions are answered.

The British Wealth and Assets survey, released today, provides measures of inequality in private wealth (so not including public debts and assets) between different households.

And households come in different shapes and sizes.

Individuals who are married or widowed are the most likely to live in a wealthier household. Whereas those who are separated, divorced or single are the least likely.

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Wage growth has risen by more than inflation for the first time since 2010 and employment has grown by the largest amount for 24 years, according to figures released by the ONS today.

Given this context its worth taking a look at the performance of Britain’s labour market since the 2008 financial crisis.

1. Despite lacklustre GDP growth employment has been steadily increasing since 2010. Read more

by Nassos Stylianou and John Burn-Murdoch

Between May 22 and 25, some 400 million people will be eligible to vote in the European Parliament elections. But how many of them will actually turn up at the ballot box?

Following 2009 treaty changes, the European Parliament will for the first time have a more direct role in electing the president of the European Commission , the EU’s executive arm, giving May’s election added significance.

Despite the increasing influence of the European Parliament, the percentage of those voting to elect its members has fallen in every election, from 62 per cent in 1979’s inaugural direct elections through to 43 per cent in 2009.

At the last European elections five years ago, less than half of those eligible voted in 18 of the 27 member states. In six countries, the turnout was below 30 per cent. In one country, Slovakia, less than one in five of those eligible voted.

Turnout in Germany, France and Italy – founding members of the common market – has eroded by more than 20 percentage points since then. In the UK, turnout was already low at 32.3 per cent in 1979 and levels have remained consistently below 40 per cent ever since.

However, several of the newer member states such as Estonia, Latvia and Bulgaria recorded a surge in turnout in 2009.

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The New York Times asked yesterday whether Americans with a car in the driveway, a flat-screen television and a computer with an Internet connection can be described as “poor”.

In the United States, material goods – televisions, computers and cars – are at their most affordable in ten years, all having steadily dropped in price since 2005.

However, the cost of items that have traditionally helped pull Americans out of poverty – education, childcare and healthcare – have become far more expensive. Families’ everyday expenses also remain under strain from a steady increase in the cost of food and little change in the price of housing.

What would the same analysis of the cost of living look like in the UK?

We created a UK version of the chart in the New York Times’ story, using real prices calculated from the British consumer price index. The story was pretty similar:

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In an article written last Wednesday for Church Times, an Anglican newspaper, David Cameron claimed that Britain was a “Christian country”. In response fifty-five assorted public figures including academics, scientists and comedians wrote a letter to the Telegraph newspaper on Easter Sunday saying that it was no such thing and in fact: “repeated surveys, polls and studies show that most of us as individuals are not Christian in our beliefs or our religious identities.”

That depends on how the question is asked. The results of the 2011 census supports Cameron, with narrow majorities in England and Wales, and Scotland and an overwhelming majority in Northern Ireland identifying as Christian. Yet the 2012 British Social Attitudes Survey (BSAS) places Christians in the minority comprising only 46 per cent of the population. Read more

In September, the Scottish people will vote in a referendum that could see the country break away from the rest of the UK.

Using polling data collated by the UK Polling Report and What Scotland Thinks, we have analysed all polls conducted in the past year that used the referendum question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

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Business users breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday after the UK’s statistics authorities announced they have decided against scrapping the 200-year-old census. They plan instead to replace paper forms mailed to households with an online questionnaire. Read more