The UK's "labour productivity per hour-worked" is currently on a par with the average for the old EU

Now which comes closest in meaning to the phrase "on a par" ?

i) equal to

ii) of same value

Now , only one has to be the correct answer and I think both actually work in the given context because average is a number and being equal to it or being of the same value would not be different.So both option i) and ii) mean same to me but that is not correct right? So ,how do I get the closest meaning ?

EDIT: This is from a test question, and the question says only one is correct, so I am confused.

  • Is this some kind of exercise or test question, or is it your own personal assessment? Please indicate so. – Em. Oct 9 '16 at 20:06
  • The term equal to means exactly the same thing as of same value. How can one be more correct than the other? – Mick Oct 9 '16 at 20:06
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    The OP has made an unfortunate choice here :( - The people who created this "test" tell us everything we need to know about their fluency in their "About us" section: Smartkeeda makes heaps of contents go through the state-of-the-art, technologically driven and adaptive application that identifies the ‘trend’ and provides you with most relevant set of questions as per your exam selection and hence helps you focus on actually where it’s needed. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Oct 10 '16 at 1:22
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    In fact neither of the choices has the same meaning as on a par as used in the article. It means roughly comparable to, not equal to nor of equal value. But I doubt the unscrupulous people who charge unsuspecting students for this material know the difference or care about it. – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Oct 10 '16 at 1:30
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    It is very close in meaning to equal, but it is used when exactly equal is not precisely accurate. It is close enough in meaning to be defined as it is in some references. The really important point here for you as a learner, though, is that the question demonstrates that the writer of the test does not understand that equal to and of same value are identical in meaning! – P. E. Dant Reinstate Monica Oct 10 '16 at 7:03

I agree with user P.E. Dant. Neither choice is a good match here. I think that in your example sentence on a par means:

  • roughly the same, or
  • not markedly different.

Let us think of a context where that sentence could logically be uttered. Imagine a political debate. One side argues that the labour productivity in the UK should be increased (implying that either the workers should work harder, or possibly agree to lower wages). The other side could then give the counterargument that labour productivity is on a par with the average...

Obviously whoever says that does not mean that labour productivity in the UK is exactly the average of the old EU (down to the accuracy of, say, a penny per hour of work). Their point would be that the productivity in the UK does not significantly differ from that of the other member nations of the old EU.

Caveats: 1) A non-native user of English here. 2) Not taking a position on whether the use of this sentence would be an effective argument in a political debate - the frame story is just something I cooked up to make a point.

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