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The book returns to several core ideas throughout the following chapters. The first is that, when considering a given area of interest, statistical activity should be clearly focused on the implications of that area for the wellbeing of individuals and society. This focus can be fleshed out by considering what prominent issues are being raised in public debate, in the media, and by policy and program developers. Second, the book emphasises the need for precision and clarity in defining the terms and concepts surrounding these social phenomena, so they may be measured, reflected and analysed accurately and usefully. Thus it aims to provide guidance in defining broad and narrow areas of interest, in framework development and in the use of classifications, counting units and other measurement tools.
The social statistics system described in this book aims to meet a wide spectrum of objectives. It supports the provision of summary statistics that allow important aspects of the wellbeing of the nation to be monitored over time at a broad level. It also supports production of more specific statistics that relate to certain target groups, social programs and policy, or that inform specific social issues. Finally it aims to support the provision of statistics that help explain why wellbeing in a given area of concern is at a particular level, why and how that level has changed, and, perhaps more importantly, how it might be changed.