Rural areas including the North West are particularly deprived. It suffers from the highest unemployment and highest poverty rates in Northern Ireland. Infrastructure is substandard and has hampered economic development.
Statistical Codology Tim Harford, in his column last Saturday in the Financial Times, laments the innumeracy which pervades the popular press and much of the political debate.
There are people unable to remember the difference between a million and a billion constantly pontificating on weighty economic issues of all descriptions in both print and broadcast media. My favourite category of statistical codology is the university ranking tables now produced in profusion by various self-appointed scorekeepers, notably the Times Higher Education Supplement which ought to know better.
The Irish newspapers reported last week the sad news that Trinity College Dublin had fallen from th best university in the whole wide world to a mere th according to this venerable source. It has fallen behind the University of York, the shame of it, and has managed to stay just an inch ahead of the University of Oslo phew!
This vital info can be gleaned from footballdatabase. There is a simple reason.
Football fans know that these rankings mean nothing whatsoever. If anyone really needed to know whether Cork or Rijeka boasts the better team, say if they were drawn against one another in some competition, the matter takes ninety minutes to resolve.
How though do you check if Trinity or Oslo has the better university? A ninety-minute showdown between the staff of the two institutions would be quite a spectacle but could turn ugly. The attraction of the university rankings for journalists is precisely that they are meaningless and accordingly incontrovertible.
Which does not mean that Oxford is a poor university. It just means that the concept of university league tables is for the birds.
Football league tables based on the results of actual matches between the teams in each league are at the upper end of respectable scientific practice by comparison. It looks like Dundalk will relieve Cork of their title as the season draws to a close. But since each team will have played 36 games against the rest this really does suggest that Dundalk have the best team.
However daft the concept and dodgy the statistical methodology, the university tables have their uses. The recent declines in the rankings for the Irish colleges have fuelled demands from their presidents for extra taxpayer cash.
A few years back the same tables were showing an advance up the rankings, proof positive, according to the same people, that public spending on universities was delivering the goods and should be increased.
Brexit provides another example of the innumeracy which annoys Tim Harford. This number, not to be confused with the once-off exit bill, has been ventilated by Brexiteers as, quite properly, a potential ongoing benefit to the Treasury of a full exit. Another figure in circulation is the population of the EU which comes in around million, not quite so large a number but lots of zeroes too.
Nobody at the BBC, it would appear, has thus far bothered to divide the larger of these two big numbers by the smaller.
Some people are good at figures but most are not and are lost with very large numbers. Even at Oxford this looks a wee bit optimistic.
There is however no excuse for the sloppiness about statistical matters in well-resourced media organisations.Canada is the 9th largest economy in the world based on GDP (current prices, US dollars) and the 14th largest based on GDP (PPP). Since the global financial crisis, the Canadian economy has re-emerged as one of the strongest advanced economies in the world.
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