In our daily language the word ‘statistics’ is used in two distinct senses: Singular and Plural. In plural sense Prof. Horace Secrist defined statistics as follows “By statistics we mean aggregates of facts affected to a marked extent by multiplicity of causes, numerically expressed, enumerated or estimated according to reasonable standards of accuracy collected in a systematic manner for a predetermined person and place in relation to each other”. The above definition covers the following main points about the statistics as numerical presentation of facts (Plural Sense)
Statistics are aggregates of facts:
A single observation is not statistics it is a group of observation, e.g., if we stated that income of Mr. X. is Rs. 10,000 per month, this would not constitute statistics although it is a numerical statement of facts. But monthly income of Mr. X, Y and Z are Rs. 10,000, 9,000 and 8,000 respectively are statistics’.
Statistics are affected to a marked extent by multiplicity of causes:
Statistics are generally not isolated facts, they are dependent on, or influenced by number of phenomenon for example statistics of production of wheat are affected by the rainfall, quality of soil, seeds, manure and method of cultivation.
Statistics are numerically expressed:
Qualitative statements are not statistics unless they are supported by numbers. For example if we say that the student of a class are very good in studies, it is not a statistical statement. But when a statement reads as 40 students got first division, 30 got second division, 20 third divisions and 10 failed out of 100 students. It is a statistical statement expressed numerically.
Statistics are estimated accordingly to reasonable standard of accuracy:
We can derive facts and figure about any phenomenon in two ways, viz., by actual counting and measurement or by estimates. Estimates cannot be accurate as actual counts. For example, an estimate that 1 lakh people witnessed a rally held by a political party does not mean exactly 1 lakh; it may be few hundred or thousand more or less. On the other hand, If we count the number of students in a class and say there are 65 students, this figure would be 100 per cent accurate. Statistics are collected in a systematic manner: Statistics collected without any order and system is unreliable and inaccurate. They must be collected in a systematic manner.
Statistics are collected for a pre determined purpose:
Unless statistics are collected for a specific purpose they would be more or less useless. For example, if we want to collect statistics of agriculture production, we must decide before hand the regions, commodities and period for which they are required. Statistics are placed in relation to each other: Statistics data are often required for comparison. Therefore, they should be comparable period wise, region wise, commodity wise etc.
Statistics defined in Singular Sense:
Statistics in its singular sense refer to the methods adopted for scientific empirical studies. According to Croxton and Cowdon, “Statistics may be defined as a science of collection, presentation, analysis and interpretation of numerical data”.
- Collection of data:
This is the first step in a statistical study and is the foundation of statistical analysis. Therefore, the data should be collected by the investigator himself or obtained from reliable published or unpublished sources.
- Organization of data:
Data that are collected by an investigator need to be organized by editing, coding, classifying and tabulating. Presentation of data: Data collected and organized are presented in some systematic manner to make statistical analysis easier. The organized data could be presented with the help of table, graphs and diagrams etc.
- Analysis of Data:
The next stage is the analysis of presented data. There are large numbers of methods used for analysis the data such as averages, dispersion, correlation etc.
- Interpretation of Data:
Interpretation of data implies the drawing of conclusions on the basic of data analyzed in the earlier stage. On the basis of conclusion certain decisions can be taken.
Functions of Social Statistics:
- Statistics simplifies complex data:
With the help of statistical methods a mass of data ban be presented in such a manner that they become easy to understand.
- Statistics Presents the facts in a definite form:
The definiteness is achieved by stating conclusions in a numerical or quantitative form.
- Statistics provides a technique of comparison:
Comparison is an important function of statistics for example comparison of data of different class, categories etc. are helpful for drawing conclusion about social and economic change.
- Statistics studies relationship:
Correlation analysis is used to discover relationship between different phenomenon’s. For example relationship between supply and demand, cost and benefit, illiteracy and unemployment etc.
- Statistics helps in formulating policies:
Social policies such as health, education, population, rehabilitation policy etc. are formed on the basis of statistically collected data. Some laws such or Malthus theory of population and Engel’s law of family expenditure is also based on statistics.
- Statistics helps in forecasting:
Statistics also helps to predict the further behaviour of phenomenon such as population stabilization of India by 2035 is predicted on the basis of available statistics of past and present.
- Statistics helps in testing and formulating theories:
When some theory is to be tested, statistical data and techniques are useful. For example, whether cigarette smoking causes cancer, whether demand increase affects the price, can be tested by collecting and composing the relevant data.
Limitations of Statistic
Statistics are widely used in all science and social work profession but it is not without limitations.
The following are the limitations of statistics:
The most important condition of statistical inquiry is that subject of investigation and inquiry should be capable of being quantitatively measured. Qualitative phenomenon cannot be studied in statistics unless these attributes are expressed in terms of numerical.
It does not study individuals:
Individual values of observation have no importance in statistics because statistics is the study of mass data and deals with aggregates of facts. For example, the income of a family is say Rs. 10,000 does not convey statistical meaning while the average income of 100 families say Rs. 4,00 is statistical statement.
Statistical laws are true only on an average:
Laws of statistics are not universally applicable like the laws of physics and mathematics. They are true on an average because the results are affected by a large number of causes. The ultimate results obtained by statistical analysis are true under certain circumstances only.
Statistics can be misused:
Statistics liable to be misused. The result obtained can be manipulated according to ones own criteria and such manipulated results can mislead the community.
Statistics simply is one of the methods of studying a phenomenon:
statistical calculations are simple expression which should be supplemented by other methods for a complete comprehension of the results. Thus, statistics is the only means and not the end.
Statistical results lack mathematical accuracy:
The results drawn from statistical analysis are normally in approximate. As the statistical analysis is based on observation of mass data, number of inaccuracies may be present and it is difficult to rectify them. Therefore, these results are estimates rather than exact statements. Statistical studies are a failure in the field where one hundred percent accuracy is desired.