Why 69 and 0.1 have officially been named as the 'Statistics of the Year'

Robin De Peyer
Danger: mower-related deaths were highlighted in the statistic: andreas160578/Pixabay

The world in 2017 can be best summed up by the numbers 69 and 0.1, according to the Royal Statistical Society.

It is the first time since it was founded in 1834 that the organisation has awarded 'Statistics of the Year', and reflected statistical quirks which reflected wider issues.

Sixty-nine was chosen for the international statistic award because it is the number of US citizens killed on average in lawnmower accidents each year.

The number was contrasted with two, which is how many people are killed by immigrant Islamic terrorists in the US on average annually.

The contrast was the subject of a viral tweet by Kim Kardashian in the wake of Donald Trump's unveiling of his proposed travel ban for people from predominantly Muslim countries in January.

Her tweet also contrasted the number of lawnmower-related deaths with those killed by armed toddlers (21) and deaths through being shot by other Americans (11,737).

Dr Liberty Vittert, from the RSS, said: "Everyone on the panel was particularly taken by this statistic and its insight into risk - a key concept in both statistics and everyday life.

"When you consider that this figure was put into the public domain by Kim Kardashian, it becomes even more powerful because it shows anyone, statistician or not, can use statistics to illustrate an important point and illuminate the bigger picture."

Meanwhile, the award for the UK Statistic of the Year went to 0.1 - the percentage of the UK land area that is built upon densely.

It was revealed by Professor Alasdair Rae, of the University of Sheffield, in a study on land cover in the UK.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, president of the RSS, said: "The strength in this statistic is its surprise element. I think the figure is far smaller than most people will have expected.

"Whatever side of the argument you sit on, this statistic gives true insight into the landscape of the United Kingdom."

Other 'highly commended' statistics included -3% (the difference in real average pay in the UK in early 2017 compared to in 2008) and 7.7 billion (the number of active phone connections in June this year - the first time the figure has exceeded the world's population).

The Oxford English Dictionary recently revealed its word of the year as 'Youthquake', in recognition of the impact of young voters on June's UK general election.