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French Equivalent: Variable

A variable is a characteristic of a unit being observed that may assume more than one of a set of values to which a numerical measure or a category from a classification can be assigned (e.g. income, age, weight, etc., and “occupation”, “industry”, “disease”, etc.

A variable in the mathematical sense, i.e. a quantity which may take any one of specified set of values. It is convenient to apply the same word to denote non-measurable characteristics, e.g., 'sex' is a variable in this sense since any human individual may take one of two 'values', male or female. It is useful, but far from being the general practice, to distinguish between a variable as so defined and a random variable (The International Statistical Institute, "The Oxford Dictionary of Statistical Terms", edited by Yadolah Dodge, Oxford University Press, 2003).

Source Publication:
"United Nations Glossary of Classification Terms" prepared by the Expert Group on International Economic and Social Classifications; unpublished on paper.

Cross References:
Data item


Statistical Theme: Methodological information (metadata)

Glossary Output Segments:

Created on Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Last updated on Wednesday, December 21, 2005