Thursday, September 23, 2010

Ireland v France

A recent quality of life survey touted by the Guardian newspaper is a perfect example of the need to look behind the statistic headline. The headline reads the UK and Ireland are the worst places in Europe to live, and France is amongst the best. You can see how this might conjure some suspicion given Ireland's perennial heights in self-rated QOL surveys and France's perennial problem with strikes - as a case in point I believe the city of Paris is on foot today due to an all out train strike there! Interestingly, one aspect of the questionable index is age of retirement...

The index also magically (!) mixes together hours of work, holidays, GDP per capita, VAT rates, fuel-, alcohol-, tobacco-, and food-prices, life-expectancy and hours of sunshine.. but what really makes the caldron bubble is government spending on health and education. where more spending is unquestionably good.

Criticism on the complied score and resulting rankings aside, the scores on the individual aspects measured are new and provide an interesting and useful snapshot for quick comparisons.


Kevin Denny said...

I'd say its a good reason not to bother look at daft statistics. Much the same holds for other rankings that are so popular these days.
Does the index include the snootiness of the waiters by the way?

Peter Carney said...

fair enough/ but short of banning the media right to publish nonsense it's important to point out just how daft these measures are.

I reckon the snootiness of the waiters is excluded but then so too is the splendor of versailles/

It will be interesting to see how self-rated QOL will evolve over the course of the current economic difficulties - a PIGS life perhaps?

Anonymous said...

I wonder what Joe Stiglitz would make of this?