Fake News vs Fake Statistics?

singapore-unemployment-rate-foreign-workers-increase

Are these examples of “fake” statistics?

A friend asked me – with all the hoohah on “fake news” – got “fake statistics” or not?

Well, from my experience analysing statistics for the last two decades or so – “fake statistics” are very very rare.

What we have are often:

… no disclosure of the statistics

… partial disclosure of the statistics

… omitting statistics

… changing the definition of the statistics

… changing the time period of the statistics

… not reporting statistics using international norms

… changing the base population of the statistics”

… a combination of the above

Let me try to give some examples to illustrate the above.

“no disclosure of the statistics” – the HDB does not breakdown the price of HDB BTO flats into contruction, land and other costs. All that we know is that land is charged at market rates

“partial disclosure of the statistics” – the employment growth statistics are broken down into locals and foreigners, but not Singaporeans

“omitting statistics” – the GIC’s annualised returns are for up to 20 years in US$ – but not the annualised return from its inception in S$. In contrast, Temasek also discloses its annualised return from its inception in S$

“changing the definition of the statistics” ‘ a part-time worker used to be defined as working not more than 30 hours a week – this was changed to 35 hours. So, arguably, by the stroke of a pen – both the categories of full-time and part-time workers’ median wages increased

“changing the time period of the statistics” – “A three-year moving average shows that out of every four extra PMETs employed in the past three years, three were locals. Five years ago, the figure was lower: one local out of every two extra PMETs” (“Parliament: Local PMETs facing brighter job prospects, says Lim Swee Say”, Straits Times, Nov 6) – Why is it that there was no mention of the actual number of PMET jobs created in the last three years?

If we account for the estimated 90,000 new PRs and 60,000 new citizens granted in the last three years – how many of the jobs to locals went to Singaporeans?

This was the first time that a “three-year moving average” was used in labour statistics in this category – such that it is almost impossible to make any meaningful comparisons over various time periods in the past

“not reporting statistics using international norms” – including Transfers to Trust and Endowment Funds in the Budget reporting, which under IMF fiscal reporting guidelines should not be charged as one-time expenditures in the Budget – the Budget surpluses may actually be much higher

 Leong Sze Hian

 

 

 

About the Author

Leong
Leong Sze Hian has served as president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), invited to speak more than 200 times in over 30 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of Indonesia and Brunei. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.