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1332.0.55.002 - Statistical Language!, 2008  
Latest ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/06/2008  First Issue
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Contents >> Median >> When is the Median not a good measure of central tendency?

WHEN IS THE MEDIAN NOT A GOOD MEASURE OF CENTRAL TENDENCY?

The median can be a good measure of central tendency, especially when the data is evenly distributed. It can illustrate a skewed and uneven distribution when compared to the mean. However, there are occasions when the median is not always a good measure of central tendency. As the median only reports on the middle most observation it does ignore the actual values of all the rest of the data, one outcome is that the median may hide the presence of extreme values.

Let us consider the wages of 'The Widget Company', we will increase the earnings of the CEO from $100,000 to $500,000.

When the CEO's salary changes to $500,000 we can see that the median income remains at $50,000, even though the CEO now earns five times their previous income.

Diagram: median salary- extreme outlier


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