Australian Bureau of Statistics

Rate this page
ABS Home > Statistics > By Catalogue Number
ABS @ Facebook ABS @ Twitter ABS RSS ABS Email notification service
1332.0.55.002 - Statistical Language!, 2008  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/06/2008  First Issue
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All RSS Feed RSS Bookmark and Share Search this Product  
Contents >> Mean >> When is the Mean not a useful measure?


The mean is a good choice of measure of central tendency when the data is more or less symmetrically spread out from the lowest to highest values. However, the mean is not a good measure when the data is unevenly spread.

Let us take the case above, but this time change the CEO's earnings to $200,000.

Using the formula again:

Equation: Mean

The mean income of these nine employees has increased to $66,666.

Given that only one of the nine employees earns above this amount, the mean is not a good measure of where the midpoint lies.

This is demonstrated in the diagram below.

Diagram: Mean with extreme outlier

In this case a much better measure of the midpoint would be the median.

Previous PageNext Page

Bookmark and Share. Opens in a new window

Commonwealth of Australia 2016

Unless otherwise noted, content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Australia Licence together with any terms, conditions and exclusions as set out in the website Copyright notice. For permission to do anything beyond the scope of this licence and copyright terms contact us.