Developing indicators: issues in the use of quantitative data about poverty.
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SPICKER, P., 2004. Developing indicators: issues in the use of quantitative data about poverty. Policy and Politics, 32 (4), pp. 431 -440.
Despite the familiarity bred by the routine use of indicators in public services, many commentators are vague about what indicators mean and how they should be used. Several confuse indicators with measurement. This paper argues that precise and accurate measurement is often inappropriate to the use of indicators, and that we need to accept a degree of uncertainty. A good indicator should be understood as a pointer, not a measure. It should be accessible, robust and accompanied by other pointers. By treating indicators as measures, summary indices conceal key issues, hide the values and concepts which are implicit in the exercise, and are vulnerable to mathematical accident. Using multiple indicators is sounder in principle, in methodological terms, and in practical application.