Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I'd like to thank the Academy...

Really, I should be thanking Luis. Here's the University of Auckland Stats Department's inaugural winner for bad stat of the week:
The nominations were all fascinating for a variety of reasons and much could be written about each of them. We’ve chosen Eric Crampton’s nomination of John Pagani’s heated blog post on youth unemployment:
In the midst of extensive discussion of the rise in youth unemployment starting around Q4 2008, Pagani points to changes in apprenticeship funding as a policy shift that could have generated the change (arguing against changes in the youth minimum wage as having been the cause). He writes:
“If it wasn’t the removal of the youth minimum wage that caused youth unemployment to increase, then it would have to have been caused by something else that happened around the same time.
One other big change was the a sharp fall in young people getting skills for work.
In December 2008 there were 133,300 people in industry training. By the end of last year, there were 108,000. ”
You could be forgiven for assuming that about 25,000 kids had been kicked out of apprenticeships – it sure looks like he’s referring to youths. All the other discussion is on youth unemployment. But the number he’s citing is overall enrolment in training and apprenticeships. And the drop in youth enrolment in training – about 4,000 – is nowhere near large enough to provide a plausible alternative explanation.
Congratulations Eric!
I'm going to point here next time somebody puts up changes in industry training as having caused the big increase in youth unemployment.

I'm looking forward to nominating the social costs of alcohol or tobacco when next somebody cites the number in press....


  1. You are most welcome! I'm happy because the inaugural award came to Canterbury. I'm sure that there must be some interesting alcohol and tobacco stats to further undermine the dodginess of the figures going around in the press.

  2. Go check Pagani's comment over at the Stats blog. In short "I didn't say, in that particular sentence, that I was referring to youths! How dare you claim I was!"

    I ought to write an oped about the horrible problem of home invasion robbery in NZ, then quote some big aggregate international robbery stat saying "Just last year, 250k people were victims of home invasion robbery" without telling anyone that I'd flipped to an international number, then cry "I'm Shocked! Shocked! That anyone would accuse me of mendacity here! I didn't say "In New Zealand" when I referenced that stat!"

  3. Nine hundred and thirty five words to say "I was caught so I'll play dumb". Pathetic.