What is the Difference between an Absolute and a Relative Measure?

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015 10.17 AM / Economy & Politics

In the course of this election, figures and percentages have been bandied about and used by people to defend/justify any particular line of argument.

Even if one looks at the same set of data, you often find commentators pushing some ‘measure’ to validate a position. While each of these commentators may not be entirely wrong, what is disingenuous is that they merely present one side of the data analytics.

Take for instance the INEC figures on PVCs.

One of the keys to any good election outcome or investment strategy is the ability to trust figures/measurements from the issuing entity. In the case of INEC, the figures are not in dispute thankfully but the data is being wrongly analysed and imputations made that attempts to discredit the public institution, more like the unintended consequence of commentaries around the data from Nigerian Bureau of statistics during the NOI/Soludo spat....a highly uncomplimentary episode.

To imagine that an 80% collection rate in a North East state is higher than a 40% collection in Lagos is incomplete.... Consideration must be given to other factors other than the relativity that exists i.e. the absolute figure(s) of total voters in the states under reference is one; another must be the qualitative factors that impede, limit or otherwise influence the collection rate outside the control of INEC, ceteris paribus.

An absolute measure is one that uses numerical variations to determine the degree of error. Absolute measures take the form of positive numbers, regardless of whether they represent high or low estimations.

Relative measures are the major alternative to absolute measures. They use statistical variations based on percentages to determine how far from reality a figure is within context.

So when you find people throwing up figures about GDP,about poverty rate, about monies allegedly stolen, about rate of corruption between one administration and the other, about the reserves and about election data; make the extra effort to consider absolutes and the qualitative factors related thereto or arising therefrom. #JustSaying - Economy & Politics @ecopoliticsNG


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