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Downloading Wisdom from Online Crowds

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Author Info

  • Saiz, Albert

    ()
    (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

  • Simonsohn, Uri

    ()
    (University of California, San Diego)

Abstract

The internet and other large textual databases contain billions of documents: is there useful information in the number of documents written about different topics? We propose, based on the premise that the occurrence of a phenomenon increases the likelihood that people write about it, that the relative frequency of documents discussing a phenomenon can be used to proxy for the corresponding occurrence-frequency. After establishing the conditions under which such proxying is likely to be successful, we construct proxies for a number of demographic variables in the US and for corruption across countries and US states and cities, obtaining average correlations with occurrence-frequencies of 0.47 and 0.61 respectively. We also replicate results from two separate published papers establishing the correlates of corruption at both the state and country level. Finally, we construct the first index of corruption in US cities and study its correlates.

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File URL: http://ftp.iza.org/dp3809.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3809.

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Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp3809

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Related research

Keywords: proxy variables; document-frequency; textual databases; internet;

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Cited by:
  1. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/7o52iohb7k6srk09n0dcia0po is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Yen-Teik Lee & Bang Dang Nguyen & Quoc-Anh Do, 2013. "Political Connections and Firm Value: Evidence from the Regression Discontinuity Design of Close Gubernatorial Elections," Sciences Po publications 15, Sciences Po.
  3. Stefano DellaVigna & Eliana La Ferrara, 2010. "Detecting Illegal Arms Trade," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 26-57, November.

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