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...It is also clear that the contingent migrant workforce in the US was highest in number, but the ratio thereof was lowest in 2006.
...It is also clear that the contingent migrant workforce in the US was highest in number, but the ratio of them was lowest in 2006.
...It is also clear that the contingent migrant workforce in the US was highest in number, but their ratio was lowest in 2006.

Them here refers to the contingent migrant workforce in the US. Which version do you think is best? If none of them are good, could you provide a better alternative?

Finally, is there any difference if I use "rate" instead of "ratio"?


The table below shows the number of temporary migrant workers in four countries in 2003 and 2006 and the number of these workers per 1.000 people in these countries in 2006.

Temporary migrant workers (2003 and 2006)

Country 2003 2006 Per 1000 people 2006
New Zealand 65.000 87.000 21.1
United Kingdom 137.000 266.000 4.4
Australia 152.000 219.000 10.7
United States 577.000 678.000 2.3
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    – gotube
    Apr 19 at 1:16
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    – Ken Adams
    Apr 19 at 1:52
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    – gotube
    Apr 19 at 23:55
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3 Answers 3

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There is a lot to address here, but I'll try and keep it short.

To answer your question first, I'd say the best answer was not among the options you listed. If your writing previously addressed what the ratio refers to, you could simply write "the ratio".

...It is also clear that the contingent migrant workforce in the US was highest in number, but the ratio was lowest in 2006.

If you writing did not previously specify what information the ratio refers to, then it should be included in the sentence.

...It is also clear that the contingent migrant workforce in the US was highest in number, but the ratio to full-time residents was lowest in 2006.

I would like to point out that the original examples you posted are somewhat difficult to read. When working with data it is best to be as specific as possible, so you may want to change the structure of the sentence. Because the data you are working with spans multiple years and locations, it would be best to address that at the start of the sentence. This is just a suggestion, but the following example sets the context of the information and uses language that is a little more precise.

...It is also clear that in the US in 2006 the contingent migrant workforce had the largest population, but the lowest ratio to full-time residents among the listed countries.

In regards to your other question:

Finally, is there any difference if I use "rate" instead of "ratio"?

"Rate" should not be used in the context that you provided. Rate concerns the value of something over time, so it would not correctly address the data you included. An example of data where you would use the term rate would be something like "Car Accidents over the Last 12 Months", which would measure how many, and how often, wrecks occurred over the time period measured.

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  • Thank you for such a detailed answer. I'm still a bit confused about how to use "rate", though. I've heard "poverty rate" a lot. Why do we say poverty rate, which is the ratio of the poor to the total population, but we don't say the rate of the contingent workers, which is the ratio of these people to the total population?
    – Ken Adams
    Apr 19 at 2:51
  • I actually had to think on this question for a minute, but the usage of "rate" also usually requires some kind of associated action. With "poverty rate" you're measuring the people becoming impoverished (or unimpoverished) over time. You could probably use "rate of contingent workers" if you were measuring admission over time. Ratio is more a measurement at a fixed point in time. If our timeframe is 1 year, Rate would measure levels over a year. Ratio uses the totals for the entire year.
    – fatalerrer
    Apr 19 at 16:27
  • So let's say, for example, the US population was 100.000 in 2006 and there were 1000 contingent workers in 2005. In 2006, 500 more were admitted. This means in 2006, the ratio of contingent workers to the total population was 1.500/100.000, but the rate of these workers was 500/100.000. Do I understand it right?
    – Ken Adams
    Apr 20 at 3:54
  • 1
    Sorry, but this is completely incorrect. There are no ratios expressed in the data, so you should not be using this term.
    – Astralbee
    Apr 20 at 15:43
  • 1
    @fatalerrer I don't know what you mean by "rate" requiring an "associated action"? The rates in this example are per 1000 population. So it is implied that the rate applies to every 1000 people in that population.
    – Astralbee
    Apr 20 at 16:29
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Ratio is not the appropriate word in this context, but you could use the word proportion in a similar way. Eg.

...It is also clear that the contingent migrant workforce in the US was highest in number, but as a proportion of population, it was the lowest of these countries.

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You're using mathematical terms incorrectly.

A ratio is a comparison of two quantities by division. The first number in a ratio is referred to as the "antecedent" (or "first term"), and the second number is the "consequent" (or "second term"). Neither of these numbers is the population.

When you express a rate as a percentage, a fraction, or as a number per 1000 population, you are using a numerator and a denominator, whether you show them or just the calculated rate in the case of a percentage. A percentage is essentially a fraction with a denominator of 100. A population-adjusted rate is the same - per 1000 population, as your data uses, implies a denominator of 1000 instead of 100. A rate of 70 per 1000 population is the same as saying 7%.

The data in your table shows raw counts (the actual numbers of migrants in each country) and then a number adjusted for population which has been calculated by dividing the raw count by the population size and then multiplying by 1000. There is no ratio expressed, so it is completely incorrect to refer to one. Just refer to the adjusted figure as "the rate per 1000 population". That tells the reader everything they need to know. It's a 'rate' rather than a number because the implication is that is how many there are on average in every 1000 of the population. Just for the record, 21 migrants in 1000 population would be a ratio of 21:979 migrants to non-migrants. I think that would be a weird way to express the data.

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  • A ratio is a comparison of two quantities by division. I'm a bit confused about what you think is expressed in the table posted. It appears to me to be the resident population (per 1000) divided by the migrant population. In other words, just a ratio expressed as a decimal. Am I missing something?
    – fatalerrer
    Apr 21 at 17:48
  • @fatalerrer yes you are. In a ratio, neither of the numbers is the population. For example, if you had 7 people - 3 male, 4 female - the ratio of males to females is 3:4. The population is 7. But as a ratio is expressed in the lowest terms, you don't know if the population is 7, 14, 21 , 700 etc. So a ratio is a comparison of two groups that make up the population, not one of those groups to the population itself.
    – Astralbee
    Apr 22 at 6:35

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