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Consequences of Data Error in Aggregate Indicators: Evidence from the Human Development Index
(2008)
  • Hendrik Wolff, University of Washington
  • Howard Chong, University of California, Berkeley
  • Maximilian Auffhammer
Abstract

This paper examines the consequences of data error in data series used to construct aggregate indicators. Using the most popular indicator of country level economic development, the Human Development Index (HDI), we identify three separate sources of data error. We propose a simple statistical framework to investigate how data error may bias rank assignments and identify two striking consequences for the HDI. First, using the cutoff values used by the United Nations to assign a country as ‘low’, ‘medium’, or ‘high’ developed, we find that currently up to 45% of developing countries are misclassified. Moreover, by replicating prior development/macroeconomic studies, we find that key estimated parameters such as Gini coefficients and speed of convergence measures vary by up to 100% due to data error.

Keywords
  • Measurement Error,
  • International Comparative Statistics
Publication Date
January 1, 2008
Citation Information
Hendrik Wolff, Howard Chong and Maximilian Auffhammer. "Consequences of Data Error in Aggregate Indicators: Evidence from the Human Development Index" (2008)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/auffhammer/4/