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Out for the Count: A Social Scientist's Analysis of Unemployment Statistics in the UK

Paul Gregg
Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. Series A (Statistics in Society)
Vol. 157, No. 2 (1994), pp. 253-270
Published by: Wiley for the Royal Statistical Society
DOI: 10.2307/2983361
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2983361
Page Count: 18
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Out for the Count: A Social Scientist's Analysis of Unemployment Statistics in the UK
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Abstract

The validity of UK unemployment statistics was the focus of intense debate through the 1980s and again in 1992. This mainly concerned whether they were open to politically motivated manipulation. To some extent this argument has missed a wider point. Frequent changes of coverage and consistency between sources of information which provide measures of unemployment have led to a paucity of data that are suitable for social scientific study with its implied costs to our understanding of unemployment over the last 15 years. It is hoped that an increasing reliance on specifically designed survey techniques, rather than measures based on benefit administration data, will overcome many of these problems for the 1990s. The design of the Labour Force Survey should take on board the questions raised by social scientists. In particular, the shortage of available work should be measured by the broader indicators of social distress as well as the identification of excess labour supply in the labour market.

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