Detecting Problems in Survey Data Using Benford's Law

George G. Judge, Laura Schechter
2007 Social Science Research Network  
It is 15:00 on Friday in Nairobi. Do you know where your enumerators are?? Good quality data is paramount for applied economic research. If the data underlying economic analyses are distorted, the corresponding conclusions and inferences may be false or incomplete. We demonstrate how Benford's Law can be used to test for data abnormalities including enumerator and respondent distortions. We conduct a detailed analysis of one dataset from rural Paraguay, as well as a broader comparison of seven
more » ... atasets commonly used by development economists. Using the Paraguay data, we find that Benford's Law is a useful tool with which to evaluate and test the integrity of survey data. Using seven datasets, we then compare those collected under the supervision of academic researchers and those collected by government statistical offices and present evidence regarding relative data quality.
doi:10.2139/ssrn.885685 fatcat:o6vjvyctl5c67nisyasclmsdoi