Downloading Wisdom from Online Crowds

48 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2007 Last revised: 19 Jun 2014

Albert Saiz

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School; IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Uri Simonsohn

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2007

Abstract

The internet contains billions of documents, is there useful information in the number of websites 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 US states and countries, obtaining average correlations with occurrence-frequencies of 0.46 and 0.61 respectively. We also replicate results from two separate published papers establishing the correlates of corruption. Finally, we construct the first index of corruption in US cities and study its correlates.

Keywords: Proxy variables, econometrics, corruption, integration of beliefs, survey, internet, document

JEL Classification: B41, C42, C81, R10, J00

Suggested Citation

Saiz, Albert and Simonsohn, Uri, Downloading Wisdom from Online Crowds (May 2007). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=990021 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.990021

Albert Saiz (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

314 Lauder-Fischer Hall
256 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6330
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Uri Simonsohn

University of Pennsylvania - The Wharton School ( email )

3730 Walnut Street
JMHH 500
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6365
United States

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