As with barking dogs, statisticians must watch their indicators
When I was a young child in rural Lesotho, my elders often warned me to be careful of barking dogs. This was not, as you might expect, because barking dogs could become dangerous, could attack or even savage children in the fields and villages. It was because of the importance of interpreting what the barking of dogs signified.
This explanation was usually accompanied by a story. Dogs in the fields often slept among the haystacks to keep warm. When they barked, some villagers immediately assumed that there were thieves in their midst, attempting to steal cattle. Others assumed the dogs were barking at cattle moving between the haystacks. A third group suspected that the dogs were barking because their warm environment was threatened by some intrusion – cattle or people or even other dogs. millennium development goals and South Africa’s programme of action to set measurable and attainable targets in reducing poverty. However, the very measurement of poverty is controversial. It is often quantified in relation to the income and expenditure of an individual, household or group of people.
Other approaches to poverty measurement take into account the “social wage”, which can include state provision of subsidies and services at reduced or no cost. The approach to poverty measurement inevitably influences the way poverty indicators are constructed.
The development of statistical indicators is not confined to separate countries. The “internationalisation” of statistical practice increasingly allows for comparisons between countries. This is a central element in the monitoring of social and economic progress across the globe.
The UN report … shows sensitivity to the lesson of the barking dogs