Poverty in Malaysia: data and its discontents | The Malaysian Insight

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Poverty in Malaysia: data and its discontents

IN this renewed debate on poverty measurement in Malaysia, one of the underlying issues is access to microdata.

Microdata allows researchers to analyse more complex questions, beyond the averages, which may be more useful for policymaking. 1. DOSM needs to balance confidentiality and access when it comes to microdata. Confidentiality is key to maintaining trust with respondents and helps ensure future cooperation when surveys are conducted.

All the reasons above are legitimate, but the problems they pose are not insurmountable and should be weighed against the benefits of having more access to microdata. On misinterpretation, metadata can be released alongside the microdata to explain the data structure and how statistics should and shouldn’t be used. In a post-truth world, it might be more productive for researchers to debate one another and point out potential misinterpretations of the data, instead of putting this burden entirely on a single authority.

The government can save costs from having to commission expensive consultancy-based reports, because knowledge is generated in the public domain.The first core principle recommended by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe on managing statistical confidentiality and microdata access is: “It is appropriate for microdata collected for official statistical purposes to be used for statistical analysis to support research as long as confidentiality is protected.


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