From: Matt Berkley@aol.com
Sent: 10 October 2001
Statistics and survival
Thank you for listening to me the other day.
I have sent a
letter to the Economist, which I attach here.
believe that I am raising a fundamental issue for social science about the
validity of using statistical averages to infer benefit to individuals, in
populations with variable mortality.
Essentially, I am saying nothing more than
Rowntree said 100 years ago - the death rate is the best
instrument for measuring the physical well-being of a population. He
found that the death rate among the poorest was twice the rate among the
best-paid of the working class, but this is exactly the kind of statistic that I
cannot find on poor countries.
I have discussed the Dollar and
Kraay paper on growth with Frances Stewart, Meghnad Desai, James Putzel, and
others. Considering their comments, it is surprising to me that it
is accepted by DFID.
I have discussed differential
mortality with a DFID statistician, the head of statistics at the OECD and the
head of statistics at the World Bank. None of them can provide any
data on possible effects on average income statistics, or on poverty reduction.
I have many more points about this than I have made in my
If you would like to discuss this
further, my number is Oxford 727092.