A variable is any characteristics, number, or quantity that can be measured or counted. A variable may also be called a data item. Age, sex, business income and expenses, country of birth, capital expenditure, class grades, eye colour and vehicle type are examples of variables. It is called a variable because the value may vary between data units in a population, and may change in value over time.
For example; ‘income’ is a variable that can vary between data units in a population (i.e. the people or businesses being studied may not have the same incomes) and can also vary over time for each data unit (i.e. income can go up or down).