Mean or Median? A statistics class with 40 students consists of 30 students with no income, 10 students with small incomes from part-time jobs, and a professor with a very large income that is well deserved. Which is better for describing the income of a typical person in this class: mean or median? Explai

Answer

Step 1 of 3</p>

In this case Median is better for describing income of a typical person in this class.

Step 2 of 3</p>

The mean is the one to use with symmetrically distributed data; otherwise, use the median. If you follow this rule, you will get a more accurate reflection of an 'average' value.

The mean is calculated by adding together all the values, and then dividing them by the number of values you have. As long as the data is symmetrically distributed this is fine and if the data is not symmetrical (ie. skewed) it can be misleading.

It only takes a moment's thought to realise that more people earn low salaries than high ones, because a fairly large proportion of the population works part-time - so the data will not be symmetrically distributed. Therefore the mean is not the best 'average' to use in this case.