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Public Confidence in Official Statistics 2018

People Photo
Published: March 2019

Levels of trust in ONS and the statistics it produces remain high, having not changed significantly since 2016.

Aim

The aim of this research was to measure how public trust in official statistics has changed over time, and to identify possible causes.

The research explored people’s attitudes towards different sets of official statistics, including the census, crime and unemployment figures and the Consumer Price Index. Questions were also asked around whether the public think that the media and the government use statistics honestly.

The same research was carried out in 2016, 2014 and 2009.

  • The 2016 report is available here and the appendices are available here.
  • The 2014 report is available here and the appendices are available here
  • The 2009 report is available here

Findings

A majority think statistics produced by ONS are free from political interference and are important for understanding Britain.

  • Of those able to express a view, 73% agree that statistics produced by ONS are free from political interference compared to 70% in 2016 and 66% in 2014. This is a significant increase from 2014 to 2018.
  • Of those able to give an opinion, 93% agree that official statistics are important for understanding Britain. This has not significantly changed from 2016 (92%) and 2014 (90%).

Levels of trust in ONS and the statistics it produces remain high, having not changed significantly since 2016.

  • In 2018, of those able to give an opinion, 88% trust ONS, and 85% trust the statistics produced by ONS.
  • In 2016, of those able to give an opinion, 90% trusted ONS and 85% trusted the statistics produced by ONS.

There has been an increase in the low numbers of people who think the Government and Newspapers present official figures honestly.

  • Of those able to give an opinion, 31% agree that the government presents official figures honestly, a statistically significant increase from 26% who agreed in 2016.
  • Of those able to give an opinion, 23% agree that newspapers present official figures honestly, a statistically significant increase from 18% who agreed in 2016. This finding suggests that confidence in how the media and government present official statistics, whilst still comparatively low amongst the general population, does appear to be increasing.

Methodology

The questions were asked as part of a module on the BSA 2018 survey. See the technical report for the 2018 report here.

Download the report