The From email to Tony Baldry MP
Chairman, UK House of Commons Select Committee on International Development
25 June 2003
...Suppose we had the required data on life length - would that make economic statistics meaningful measures of poverty? Maybe, if we knew about prices, age structure and extra items of necessary expenditure.
...income statistics (adjusted for prices, age and extra items)...
1) outcome statistics should take survival into account;
2) statements about progress should be based on a credible assessment of the reliability of the data, and
3) income statistics should only be used where prices of staple foods (and any changes in necessary expenditure due for example to the proportion of people in cities, or the changing proportion of adults) are estimated.
Economic statistics on “poverty” in all large-scale studies also ignore the
facts that the proportion of adults is rising and adults need more food than children...]
Addis Tribune newspaper article, 28 November 2003:
"World Bank economists and university professors have claimed to know how "good" or "bad" policies were, without taking into account:
a) how much food poor people need to buy (because of the proportions of adults in countries at different times)
b) how much the food costs (they use the total inflation rate, which is mostly influenced by the inflation rate for the rich)
c) how much extra expenditure was necessary - due to increased urbanisation (with, we might expect, more need for expenditure on rent) - or changing costs for water and health care.
The macroeconomics profession has confused their "cross-sectional" statistics (averages of people alive at any time) with "longitudinal" statistics (which are about what happens to real people)."