Benford's Law and COVID-19 Reporting
17 Pages Posted: 6 May 2020
Date Written: April 28, 2020
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 and thus find no evidence of manipulation. Policy makers in the rest of the world should trust the Chinese data and formulate policy accordingly.
Keywords: Corona COVID-19, statistical reporting, government accountability
JEL Classification: E61, E65, H41, I18
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