First to spot the misleading statistics repeated wins a prize. Credit - public domain

Most people on’t read very much of anything. Thus it’s the first eyepopping claim that matters, not the qualifications which follow it. So it is with this claim about rents from Shelter:

Rents have risen 60% faster than wages across England since 2011, according to analysis from housing charity Shelter, which claims the crisis is spilling out of cities into “Middle England” towns such as Tunbridge Wells.

The figures show that private rents have risen by 16% since 2011, outpacing average wages which have only risen by 10% over that period. Shelter analysed official data from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings and the Index of Private Housing Rental Prices.

That rents have risen a bit more than wages, well, OK. But that’s not the claim that will lodge in some minds. Rather, that rents have risen by 60% since 2011 is what will. Which is the point of making the comparison in that manner of course, so as to drop that misinformation into the public debate.

At which point we’ll offer a prize – the traditional one of you being granted the right to slap yourselves on the back and throw a party with lashings of ginger beer for all – for the first to spot this mistake being made in public. From newspaper comment sections through blogs to actual articles in edited publications. “Rents have risen 60%, as Shelter shows” or the like.

Good Hunting and we don’t expect it to take long.

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  1. As when two cases of cancer are reported in a town near a fracking site, when one case would be the statistical norm.

    The fact that prices do not fluctuate in lockstep means that the price system is working, that prices still convey useful information about the relative shortage of stuff. Tim has ably documented the regulations leading to the relative shortage of rentable property. We would not want a world where nothing went up faster than wages, despite invoking the leftie worship-word of Unaffordability.

    The racket reporting this problem is a racket whose lifeblood is reporting (or manufacturing) problems. So some of the statistical manipulation is willful.