Advantages And Disadvantages Of Official Statistics In Sociological Research

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Assess the Advantages and Disadvantages of Official Statistics Official statistics are quantitative data produced by local and national government bodies, and can cover a wide range of behaviour including births, deaths, marriages and divorce, income, crime, and work and leisure. Official statistics can be produced as a by-product of the normal workings of a government department, but they can also result from research designed specifically to produce them. Two main sources of official statistics are the government and its departments, and surveys. For example, government departments such as the Home Office and Education and Skills request; process and then publish information from organisations such as local tax offices, social…show more content…
This is similar to longitudinal studies, however the sample size of official statistical data is usually much larger. Looking at the above advantages, it would be easy to draw a conclusion that official statistics are in fact very useful as a source of data, however there are also important disadvantages to official statistics. Official statistics are not always produced in a useful form, making them harder for a sociologist to analyse and draw any trends and patterns from. Another disadvantage is that statistics do not always measure what they intend to measure. For example the Home Office Crime Rates Statistics do not take into account the fact that not all crime is reported. This can decrease the representivity of the data. Another factor which must be considered when interpreting official statistics is that because official statistics are usually produced by the government, they may be politically biased, for example to show that their policies are having the predicted effect. A well-known example of this is that the method of collecting unemployment statistics has changed many times, which gives the appearance that the unemployment rate it falling. From these disadvantages it would appear that although statistics can be very enlightening and useful, there are several pitfalls, which cannot always be avoided. Positivists view official statistics as a potentially valuable source of quantitative data;
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