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Us, D (2021)

Benford's Law: An Empirical Analysis of Reported Covid-19 Cases and Institutional Structures Around the Globe

Undergraduate Thesis, Università commerciale Luigi Bocconi, Milan.

ISSN/ISBN: Not available at this time. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.28839.88488

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the need for transparent and accurate data reporting and the importance of efficient institutional responses from authorities worldwide. Researchers challenged the legitimacy of the reported data and the competency of relevant authorities to handle the pandemic successfully. This paper aims to use Newcomb-Benford's law (NBL), a forensic tool commonly used to detect inconsistencies in data by testing the first-digits conformity to the suggested logarithmic distribution, on the reported daily COVID-19 cases from 150 countries. The NBL suggests that the frequencies of first-digits in randomly selected and naturally occurring numbers follows a logarithmic distribution where the expected frequency of digit 1 is 30.1%, of digit 2 is 17.6%, and so on until the digit 9 is observed only 4.6% of the time. Hence, when there is nonconformity, this suggests an abnormality in the data to be investigated further for manipulation, miscalculation, and a change in the nature of the data in hand. As an addition to prior research on the matter, this paper will be adopting a more holistic approach and will be specifically looking for correlations between certain institutional characteristics and conformity to NBL. The hypothesis of the paper is that the conformity of COVID-19 daily cases to NBL is correlated with economic, demographic, and socio-political factors of the countries, and that nonconformity does not necessarily suggest intentional misreporting. In the analysis, the countries are grouped based on their level of conformity and their correlation with these three groups of factors are examined. The results show that wealthier, less populated, less infected, and/or more democratize countries' Covid-19 data conform better to NBL. The wealthier countries might've had better infrastructures to properly detect and measure the number of cases or having a higher income before the pandemic might've allowed their people to follow the restrictions better. Similarly higher population and higher total number of cases might have exceeded the capacity of the health system and made monitoring harder to maintain. Lastly, more democratic states having better conformity is most likely due to more transparent policies from authorities and less political concerns related to crisis control.

@mastersThesis{, AUTHOR = {Damla Us}, TITLE = {Benford's Law: An Empirical Analysis of Reported Covid-19 Cases and Institutional Structures Around the Globe }, SCHOOL = {Universit{\`a} Bocconi}, YEAR = {2021}, ADDRESS ={Milan, Italy}, TYPE = {Undergraduate Thesis}, DOI = {10.13140/RG.2.2.28839.88488}, }

Reference Type: Thesis

Subject Area(s): Medical Sciences