Mon | Oct 16, 2017

Rampant violence affecting STATIN’s critical survey

Published:Sunday | July 16, 2017 | 12:00 AMRyon Jones
The household expenditure survey wants to capture data on what Jamaicans are buying, as part of the baseline information for the Consumer Price Index.

The violence which has been sweeping the country has negatively impacted the work of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), which is undertaking a household expenditure survey (HES).

The criminals have forced STATIN to have its data collectors avoid some communities and delay their work in others.

"The persons who do data collection for us, like our senor supervisors, they know the areas well and sometimes what we have to do is wait until the violence has calmed a little, and if the police say it's OK, then they will go in and they tend to do so in groups," Director General of STATIN Carol Coy told The Sunday Gleaner.

According to Coy, while the inner-city residents are sometimes some of the best respondents to surveys, there are some areas, especially in the western end of the island, that are too volatile to venture into.

"The issue of violence for us is more critical in the west, and so what we have had to do is to substitute the sample area that we go to," said Coy.

"It is very difficult to do that but we have no choice," added Coy.

In addition to western Jamaica, STATIN has also had to find substitute areas for the southern part of Spanish Town and some parts of the Corporate Area.

 

Waiting process

 

"Usually, the first thing is to wait to see if the violence is temporary and will go back down," said Coy.

"If it is a long-term situation, then we use scientific methods to replace these areas because we do the survey based on sample areas. And so what we would have to do is substitute an area within a parish that is statistically similar."

Coy told our news team that going in with the police is not a feasible option because that would influence the response.

The HES is used to collect baseline information for the Consumer Price Index (CPI), the metric used to determine the weighted average movement of prices and its effect on inflation.

To achieve an accurate result a wide cross section of persons has to be engaged, and STATIN has targeted 1,200 households each month.

But in addition to the violence, accessing some of communities is proving to be a challenge.

"If there is not a guard at the gate it is difficult to get in to interview the householder in that gated community on our sample," said Coy.

The HES consists of 12 discrete samples, which, from start to finish, is expected to cost about $200 million. It started on February 6 and will run until February of next year.

ryon.jones@gleanerjm.com