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Benford’s Law and COVID-19 reporting

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  • Koch, Christoffer
  • Okamura, Ken

Abstract

Trust in the reported data of contagious diseases in real time is important for policy makers. Media and politicians have cast doubt on Chinese reported data on COVID-19 cases. We find Chinese confirmed infections match the distribution expected in Benford’s Law and are similar to that seen in the U.S. and Italy. We identify a more likely candidate for problems in the policy making process: Poor multilateral data sharing on testing and sampling.

Suggested Citation

  • Koch, Christoffer & Okamura, Ken, 2020. "Benford’s Law and COVID-19 reporting," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 196(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolet:v:196:y:2020:i:c:s0165176520303475
    DOI: 10.1016/j.econlet.2020.109573
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Corona COVID-19; Statistical reporting; Government accountability; World Health Organization;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • H41 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Public Goods
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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