Measurement and estimation of pay-off
Different types of measurement, counts, and classification are appropriate at different stages in social-action programmes. Information has no value in itself, its value is only in terms of its purpose. There can be no generally useful measurement, because there can be no general purposes. Social-accounting data have a useful function in focusing attention on areas where problems exist and where further inquiry might be expected to prove profitable, or where the social ethic of a country may demand remedial or preventive action. Data that provide a general picture of health, education, crime, and other welfare and economic problems are essential, but they do not provide an adequate basis for measuring the effects of specific programmes of social action. There may be a tendency to try to make use of data that are not strictly appropriate to a problem because they are already in existence, and it is necessary to make whatever use one can of such information, but at the same time to be aware of the dangers of using 'semi-attached' figures. Some ways in which general social-accounting data may be used in connection with supplementary data obtained for the specific purposes will be considered in the present chapter.