Monday, 14 September 2009

The mean is never a sensible measure of money across the population

British Household wealth drops by nearly £31,000 through recession says the Daily Telegraph. The drop is about 12%, which means that the mean household wealth is around £250,000 now, down from around £290,000 last year.

Well, a third of households don't own their home (either outright or with a mortgage). Given that those who do own homes have a mean house price around £225,000 (also a misleading mean, of course: everything other than detached houses is a bit cheaper than this), the household wealth distribution is going to be very skewed.

Mean losses (or gains, for that matter) are easy to calculate, but have very little value when thinking about the effect on individuals.