Collection and Presentation of Data: Meaning and Features of Data (For CBSE, ICSE, IAS, NET, NRA 2022)

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Meaning and Features of Data

Data means quantitative information providing facts in an aggregate manner. The information could be on anything that can be given numerically and useful for decision making. It is also called statistical data or simply statistics. Data is a plural term. The singular of data is datum. From the meaning we can give some features of the term statistics or data below with example.

Statistics Are the Aggregate of Facts

A single fact cannot be considered as statistics or data. For example, the marks secured by a student of class X in mathematics are 95. This is given as single information which is simply a fact and not the data. However, the marks secured by all the students of class X of a school, either section wise or in total can be considered data, because it becomes an aggregate of facts. By just telling the marks of one student, we cannot know the performance of others and accordingly we cannot carry out any analysis to recommend for their betterment. This means that by giving aggregate of facts, data become meaningful as it provides scope for carrying out analysis. See the table below. It gives the marks secured by all the 18 students of a class in mathematics. By looking at this we can compare the performance of the whole class. So, this is an example of data:

Statistics Are the Aggregate of Facts

Numerically Expressed

Statistics or data are always quantitative in nature. Qualitative information such as good, bad, average, handsome are examples of some attributes, the magnitude of which cannot be quantified and as such these cannot be called statistics or data. When facts are put into a framework of numbers either through counting and calculation or estimation, these may be called data.

Data Are Affected to a Marked Extent by Multiplicity of Causes

Data are not influenced by a single factor but are influenced by many factors. For Example, rise in prices of commodities may have been due to several causes like, reduction in supply, increase in demand, rise in taxes, rise in wages etc.

Reasonable Standard of Accuracy

100 % accuracy in statistics is neither possible nor desirable. What is needed and expected is only a reasonable standard of accuracy. If a doctor has invented a new medicine to control cholesterol and statistically he ascertained that 90 % of patients have responded well and statistically if 95 % persons responded to the treatment, it may be considered that the new medicine is good and it has reasonable standard of accuracy as the results show that only 90 % of patients have responded well and not 100 % . It reflects reasonable standard of accuracy.

Predetermined Purpose

Data are collected for a predetermined purpose. Both the above tables serve some important purposes.

Importance of Data in Economics

In Economic Planning

  • The data of the previous years are generally used to prepare future plan. For example, if we have to plan expenditure to be incurred on primary education for a year, data regarding number of students who were enrolled up to class fifth in previous years and the expenditure incurred during those years is important to look at. Forecasting is done on the basis of economic planning.
  • example, if we want to predict the growth of per capita income of a country, the data on the growth rate of population and the national income are also to be collected and considered

To Determine National Income

In order to know the state of our economy it is important to know the national income besides various other things. But national income can be determined by using certain methods which require quantitative information on various things such as wages and salaries received by workers, rent received for use of land and building, interest received for use of funds and profit earned by the entrepreneurs in the economy in the given year.

Basis of Government Policies

Statistical data are widely used by government to frame policies for economic development of the country. On the basis of data on the vast number of poor and unemployed people in India, the government had to make policy to remove poverty and unemployment by enacting National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. In India Census which is carried out once in every 10 years provide data on male and female population, number of literates, number of workers etc.

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