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VietNamNews

Don't believe the statistics

Update: September, 16/2014 - 09:19

"Made up" statistics are having a serious impact on Viet Nam's social security system, Dr. Trinh Hoa Binh from the Academy of Social Sciences told Lao dong (Labour) Newspaper.

Do you believe that the 2013 unemployment rate of 1.84 per cent released by the Viet Nam Institute of Labour Science and Social Affairs is accurate?

I don't believe in that figure, or statistics released by many offices. Why? Because their calculations are not reliable. Or perhaps, managers of these offices don't want to paint a "grave" picture that reflects badly on their offices.

Additionally, we should understand correctly the meaning of the word "unemployment". Until now, there have been many debates over the definition of unemployment or under-employment.

In many rural areas, the concept of unemployment has been interpreted in various ways. For example, to fill a form asking about their job, a person writes "farmer." However, in reality, most of their time may not be spent on the farm but doing other jobs on the side.

Should we say that he/she is unemployed and under-employed? A similar situation exists for people working in the industrial sector. For example, in a construction project, jobs that could be done by machines are still done using manual labour. Why? The reason is very simple - to provide job for everyone.

Do you think that statistics provided by a government agency will influence government policy in that field? That is, if statistics are incorrect, it will be reflected in policy?

It is not easy to control the figures. Furthermore our traditional statistics are not reliable. In some offices, for their own interest, they are willing to falsify figures.

So, undoubtedly, inaccurate statistics could negatively impact the government's policies or guidelines. As a result, certain groups of people who need social assistance may be left out of policy efforts.

Whether the mistakes are small or big, they will distort the picture. It is high time for each office to think twice before releasing any statistics to the public.

Do you mean that those responsible in some offices deliberately release "made up" figures for their own interest?

Well, in some special circumstances, some offices have to "make up" numbers. Of course, before making up the numbers they have to inquire about the work done by their friends' offices, plus old data in their office and then make a "final decision."

In this case, they assume a group of people who are unemployed for four months in a year should be classified as unemployed. Those who are unemployed for only three months of the year should be classified as under-employed. I don't think such a definition is unclear. — VNS

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