In Search of Information: Use of Google Trends’ Data to Narrow Information Gaps for Low-income Developing Countries

Author/Editor:

Futoshi Narita ; Rujun Yin

Publication Date:

December 14, 2018

Electronic Access:

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Disclaimer: IMF Working Papers describe research in progress by the author(s) and are published to elicit comments and to encourage debate. The views expressed in IMF Working Papers are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of the IMF, its Executive Board, or IMF management.

Summary:

Timely data availability is a long-standing challenge in policy-making and analysis for low-income developing countries. This paper explores the use of Google Trends’ data to narrow such information gaps and finds that online search frequencies about a country significantly correlate with macroeconomic variables (e.g., real GDP, inflation, capital flows), conditional on other covariates. The correlation with real GDP is stronger than that of nighttime lights, whereas the opposite is found for emerging market economies. The search frequencies also improve out-of-sample forecasting performance albeit slightly, demonstrating their potential to facilitate timely assessments of economic conditions in low-income developing countries.

Series:

Working Paper No. 18/286

Subject:

English

Publication Date:

December 14, 2018

ISBN/ISSN:

9781484390177/1018-5941

Stock No:

WPIEA2018286

Price:

$18.00 (Academic Rate:$18.00)

Format:

Paper

Pages:

51

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