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Detecting Problems in Survey Data Using Benford’s Law

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  • George Judge
  • Laura Schechter

Abstract

"It is 15:00 in Nairobi. Do you know where your enumerators are??" Good quality data is paramount for applied economic research. If the data are distorted, corresponding conclusions may be incorrect. We demonstrate how Benford’s law, the distribution that first digits of numbers in certain data sets should follow, can be used to test for data abnormalities. We conduct an analysis of nine commonly used data sets and find that much data from developing countries is of poor quality while data from the United States seems to be of better quality. Female and male respondents give data of similar quality.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by University of Wisconsin Press in its journal Journal of Human Resources.

Volume (Year): 44 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages:

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Handle: RePEc:uwp:jhriss:v:44:y:2009:i1:p1-24

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Web page: http://jhr.uwpress.org/

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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Benford's Law
    by Martin Ryan in Geary Behaviour Centre on 2009-09-18 20:47:00
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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Cited by:
  1. Stefan Günnel & Karl-Heinz Tödter, 2009. "Does Benford’s Law hold in economic research and forecasting?," Empirica, Springer, vol. 36(3), pages 273-292, August.
  2. Auffhammer, Maximilian & Carson, Richard T., 2008. "Forecasting the path of China's CO2 emissions using province-level information," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 55(3), pages 229-247, May.
  3. Brähler, Gernot & Bensmann, Markus & Emke, Anna-Lena, 2010. "Der Einsatz mathematisch-statistischer Methoden in der digitalen Betriebsprüfung," Ilmenauer Schriften zur Betriebswirtschaftslehre, Technische Universität Ilmenau, Institut für Betriebswirtschaftslehre, volume 4, number 42010.
  4. David E. Giles, 2012. "Exact Asymptotic Goodness-of-Fit Testing For Discrete Circular Data, With Applications," Econometrics Working Papers 1201, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
  5. Abrantes-Metz, Rosa & Villas-Boas, Sofia B. & Judge, George G., 2013. "Tracking the Libor Rate," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt2p33x7dk, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
    • Abrantes-Metz, Rosa & Villas-Boas, Sofia B. & Judge, George G., 2010. "Tracking the Libor rate," CUDARE Working Paper Series 1108R, University of California at Berkeley, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Policy, revised Jul 2010.
  6. Bardasi, Elena & Beegle, Kathleen & Dillon, Andrew & Serneels, Pieter, 2010. "Do Labor Statistics Depend on How and to Whom the Questions Are Asked? Results from a Survey Experiment in Tanzania," IZA Discussion Papers 4733, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  7. Neher, Frank, 2012. "Preferences for Redistribution around the World," Working Papers 26/2012, Universidade Portucalense, Centro de Investigação em Gestão e Economia (CIGE).
  8. Beegle, Kathleen & Carletto, Calogero & Himelein, Kristen, 2012. "Reliability of recall in agricultural data," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 34-41.
  9. Paulette Clippe & Marcel Ausloos, 2012. "Benford's law and Theil transform of financial data," Papers 1208.5896, arXiv.org.
  10. Lee, Joanne & Judge, George G, 2008. "Identifying falsified clinical data," Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley, Working Paper Series qt8x00h1c1, Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics, UC Berkeley.
  11. Neher, Frank, 2012. "Preferences for redistribution around the world," Discussion Papers 2012/2, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.
  12. Jesus Gonzalez-Garcia & Gonzalo C. Pastor, 2009. "Benford’s Law and Macroeconomic Data Quality," IMF Working Papers 09/10, International Monetary Fund.
  13. Bernhard Rauch & Max Göttsche & Gernot Brähler & Stefan Engel, 2011. "Fact and Fiction in EU‐Governmental Economic Data," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 12(3), pages 243-255, 08.
  14. Kalaichelvan, Mohandass & Lim Kai Jie, Shawn, 2012. "A Critical Evaluation of the Significance of Round Numbers in European Equity Markets in Light of the Predictions from Benford’s Law," MPRA Paper 40960, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  15. Abrantes-Metz, Rosa M. & Kraten, Michael & Metz, Albert D. & Seow, Gim S., 2012. "Libor manipulation?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 36(1), pages 136-150.
  16. Aldashev, Gani & Guirkinger, Catherine, 2012. "Deadly anchor: Gender bias under Russian colonization of Kazakhstan," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 399-422.
  17. Mir, T.A., 2014. "The Benford law behavior of the religious activity data," Physica A: Statistical Mechanics and its Applications, Elsevier, vol. 408(C), pages 1-9.

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