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Thursday, 12 September 2013

Income data released. What a shame - Statistics Canada has become a front for a political message.

Quietly Statistics Canada has delivered on their promised release of the third component of the National Household Survey, previously known as the census.  The last of the releases supposedly delayed by analytic errors  DrPHeallth August 2013 .

The highlights and high level detail are accessible at NHS third data release .   The local details can be accessed through the Stats Can portal at

Some observations,  and readers are encouraged to form their own opinions.
An excessive emphasis is placed on the valuation and attention to government sources of income such as old age security and employment assistance.
A clear emphasis that financial independence was more associated with self-employed income.
Avoidance of discussion of the maldistribution of income.
An emphasis on how those in the lowest deciles of income receive their income and how those in the highest deciles carry a disproportionate share of income tax.
Minimal analysis of the very high income earners who have been the target of poverty advocates -  data are presented by deciles only.

Who said that data is objective?   Most statisticians will tell you that data can be manipulated and presented in a fashion to convey specific messages.   Clearly Statistics Canada has presented a very biased selection of data and hidden information which those advocating for healthier distribution of resources would have found beneficial in supporting their arguments.  Even the detailed tabulations hide what is a mounting concern, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer Statistics Canada data tables  A small section on high income earners is buried in the national geographic data release buried below the provincial listing that reemphasizes the value placed on non government transfer income Stats Can national geographic data.   

That the data were delayed by an analytic glitch may remain the party line.   More likely the data were withheld so that the presentation format aligned with specific political agendas.  A further embarrassment on Statistics Canada, once revered for its independence, now a tool to support political agendas. 

Readers are encouraged to mine the income data and please comment on their interpretation of the findings.  For those daunted by trying to navigate the Statistics Canada website, access to various geographic aggregations of the data can be found at Focus on Geographic Series 

September 13 - catch the Globe and Mail analysis on how the National Household survey information on poverty is acknowledged as unreliable.  More evidence the government decision to eliminate the long form census was not based on protection of privacy, but a systematic elimination of social issues that federally can be ignored. 

1 comment:

  1. I guess an "analytic glitch" could be an accurate description of a "glitchy analyst". Depending on who is defining 'glitchy'.