Downloading Wisdom from Online Crowds
AbstractThe 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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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 3809.
Length: 54 pages
Date of creation: Oct 2008
Date of revision:
Publication status: forthcoming in: Journal of the European Economic Association
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- J11 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Demographic Trends, Macroeconomic Effects, and Forecasts
- C81 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - Methodology for Collecting, Estimating, and Organizing Microeconomic Data
- B40 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - General
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