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Who Manipulates Data During Pandemics? Evidence from Newcomb-Benford Law

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  • Vadim S. Balashov
  • Yuxing Yan
  • Xiaodi Zhu

Abstract

We use the Newcomb-Benford law to test if countries have manipulated reported data during the COVID-19 pandemic. We find that democratic countries, countries with the higher gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, higher healthcare expenditures, and better universal healthcare coverage are less likely to deviate from the Newcomb-Benford law. The relationship holds for the cumulative number of reported deaths and total cases but is more pronounced for the death toll. The findings are robust for second-digit tests, for a sub-sample of countries with regional data, and in relation to the previous swine flu (H1N1) 2009-2010 pandemic. The paper further highlights the importance of independent surveillance data verification projects.

Suggested Citation

  • Vadim S. Balashov & Yuxing Yan & Xiaodi Zhu, 2020. "Who Manipulates Data During Pandemics? Evidence from Newcomb-Benford Law," Papers 2007.14841, arXiv.org, revised Jan 2021.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:2007.14841
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    RePEc Biblio mentions

    As found on the RePEc Biblio, the curated bibliography for Economics:
    1. > Economics of Welfare > Health Economics > Economics of Pandemics > Specific pandemics > Covid-19 > Behavioral issues > Information

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