Difference Between Absolute and Relative

Absolute vs Relative

Absolute and relative are concepts that are used in life to know more about people, things, and ideas. For example, if there is only one internet service provider in an area, the customers, not knowing the features and services of other ISP in other areas, remain content with what they are getting. They cannot compare the features of service and hence have an absolute experience, not relative. Though, in a market, when buying a product, one gets a chance to compare the product with other similar products made by several companies and this helps in choosing one that is most suitable for his requirements. Let us take a closer look at the two concepts, absolute and relative.

When you are looking at an absolute perspective, you are not taking into account other similar people or products. For example, there is a concept of absolute and relative poverty being used in some countries. A threshold is set up and households having total earnings falling below this threshold are marked as poor. This is an absolute method of counting the number of poor in a country. Relative poverty is a concept where people below this threshold are compared with those lying above the poverty line, to analyze the extent to which poor household’s fall below the nation’s average income households, compare living standards and devise welfare programs to end this divide.

The concepts of absolute and relative are used in health care industry, as well. There is both an absolute risk and relative risk that a person has to develop a disease or ailment in future. When nothing else or a person is taken into account, every individual has a certain risk of developing a disease later in life depending upon his physical and mental makeup. Every individual has a genetic code that is different and thus there are differences in absolute risks of different people. For example, a person may have just 10% chance of developing heart problem later in life, whereas another person, based upon his health and lifestyle may have 50% risk of developing a heart disease. Relative risk is a concept where people are divided into groups based upon their habits and lifestyles. For example, smokers and non smokers are two distinct groups that have different relative risks to heart diseases. Other groups could be obese and thin people, men and women, vegetarian and non vegetarian, those who exercise and those who lead a sedentary lifestyle, and so on.

Similar concept of absolute and relative is being used while grading students. In early classes, teachers evaluate students in an absolute fashion while, in colleges and universities, relative grading is used to put students in brackets shared by others, and which is known as relative grading.


What is the difference between Absolute and Relative?

• Absolute evaluation or analysis means an individual, product, or idea is not compared with any other entity, and its performance is judged free from other criteria. Relative evaluation has a basis or standardization which decides whether the performance is good or bad.

• The concept of absolute and relative analysis is freely being used in healthcare, risk assessment, grading of students, and virtually every walk of like these days.