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The Political Economy of Bad Data: Evidence from African Survey and Administrative Statistics
Authors: Justin Sandefur, and Amanda Glassman
Source: Journal of Development Studies, 51(2):116-32; DOI: 10.1080/00220388.2014.968138
Topic(s): Data quality
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: MAR 2015
Abstract: Across multiple African countries, discrepancies between administrative data and independent household surveys suggest official statistics systematically exaggerate development progress. We provide evidence for two distinct explanations of these discrepancies. First, governments misreport to foreign donors, as in the case of a results-based aid programme rewarding reported vaccination rates. Second, national governments are themselves misled by frontline service providers, as in the case of primary education, where official enrolment numbers diverged from survey estimates after funding shifted from user fees to per pupil government grants. Both syndromes highlight the need for incentive compatibility between data systems and funding rules.