Statistics: An Introduction to Quantitative Economic Research

By Daniel B. Suits | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V
Exploring Statistical Functions

In this chapter, we shall put to work the tools developed in those preceding. Variables and functions will be carefully defined, and the mechanical aspects of their analysis will be taken up first. After the mechanics are understood, we shall be in a position to take up the more fundamental problems of research design.

5.1 FUNCTIONS AND VARIABLES

5.1.1 Economic Variables

A variable is a characteristic or attribute that varies from item to item in a population. "Occupation" is a variable: some men are laborers, some are lawyers, some are doctors. "City type" is a variable: some families live in large cities, some in small cities and towns, some in villages, some in open country. "Sex," "age," "education," "income," "consumption expenditure," "religious preference," "race," region," "type of farming," "liquid assets," "output," are further examples of variables.

Any variable divides the population into classes, and the value of the variable for any member of the population is the class to which he belongs. The values of the variable "sex" are "male," "female"; the variable "region" assumes such values as "New England," "Middle Atlantic," "East North Central," "South East." "Price" has such values as "\$1.98," "\$4.00," while "automobile production" is "6.2" or "7.0" million cars.

There are two general types of variables: Numerical variables are attributes whose values are expressed by numerical magnitudes: in-

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