Benford's Law and COVID-19 Reporting

17 Pages Posted: 6 May 2020

See all articles by Christoffer Koch

Christoffer Koch

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Ken Okamura

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Date Written: April 28, 2020

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 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

Suggested Citation

Koch, Christoffer and Okamura, Ken, Benford's Law and COVID-19 Reporting (April 28, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3586413 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3586413

Christoffer Koch

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas ( email )

2200 North Pearl Street
PO Box 655906
Dallas, TX Texas 75265-5906
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.dallasfed.org

Ken Okamura (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain
44-1865614825 (Phone)

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