Statistical errors

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IT WAS with great interest that I noted the publication of regional growth figures by the UK Office for National Statistics on Wednesday.

Curiously, these statistics indicated that Scotland’s economy grew at roughly half the pace between 1998 and 2011 than the Scottish Government had stated. These figures clearly had the potential to be leapt upon by Better Together, changing the balance of the independence debate.

According to the Scottish Government, there was an increase in economic growth of 26 per cent between 1998 and 2011, at an average annual rate of 1.8 per cent per annum. In contrast, the ONS had a growth figure of just over half this at 14 per cent – or only 1 per cent per annum.

On contacting the ONS, it became clear that a supposed “error” had been made and no account had been taken for inflation and these growth figures would be reissued. These figures are, therefore, by the admission of the ONS not robust, and it is rather peculiar that given the sensitivities of this matter not more care was taken in their production. It begs the question of what other statistical misrepresentations have been provided by the ONS to date.

One alternative is that the UK government might have had an influence on the production of these growth figures to try and diminish the Scottish economy in the run up to the independence referendum – but I am sure it would never dream of doing that, would it?

ALEX ORR

Leamington Terrace

Edinburgh

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