Edward Glaeser, Hyunjin Kim, Michael Luca, 17 January 2018

Economic and policy research can often suffer from a scarcity of up-to-date data sources. This column explores the potential for digital data to supplement official government statistics by providing more up-to-date snapshots of the economy. A comparison of data from Yelp with US County Business Patterns data reveals that the Yelp data provide a good indication of underlying economic trends. But although digital data from online platforms offer faster and geographically detailed images of the economy, they should be seen as a complement rather than a substitute for official government statistics.

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