Professor Easterly and Laura Freschi wrote a letter to the Lancet Medical Journal criticizing the methodology in a 193-country study on stillbirths, in which researchers could obtain actual data on stillbirths from only 33 countries and twice modeled the stillbirth estimates for the other countries:
Many will argue that modelled numbers (or in this case, twicemodelled numbers) are better than no numbers at all. To this we ask, better for what, and for whom? We question the wisdom of creating policy based on ﬁ gures with such a tenuous basis in reality. Could the irresponsible lowering of standards on data possibly reﬂ ect an advocacy agenda rather than a scientiﬁc agenda, or is it just a coincidence that Save the Children is featured among the authors of the new data?
The correspondence includes a response from the authors of the original study, who argue that "improving data quality and quantity is a high priority but in the meantime modelling is indispensable."
They previously discussed the issue in an April 2011 post on the Aid Watch blog.
Read More: >National, regional, and worldwide estimates of stillbirth rates in 2009 with trends since 1995: a systematic analysis (The Lancet, April 14, 2011) >Inception Statistics (Aid Watch blog, April 18, 2011) >Correspondence published in the Lancet, with the authors' reply (September 3, 2011)