THE ROLE OF AVAILABILITY IN THE ESTIMATION OF NATIONAL-POPULATIONS
journal contributionposted on 01.07.1992 by N R BROWN, Robert Siegler
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In two parallel experiments, conducted 17 months apart, we examined the relations among population estimates, availability, and media coverage of the 100 countries with populations of 4 million or more. The results were consistent with the main hypothesis, that availability influences population estimates. Specifically, we found that (1) rated knowledge of each country (our measure of availability) was strongly correlated with estimated population for that country; (2) rated knowledge was more strongly correlated with estimated population than were other plausible predictors, such as land area; (3) a strong partial correlation between rated knowledge and estimated population remained even after true population and true land area were partialed out; and (4) longitudinal changes in rated knowledge predicted longitudinal changes in estimated population. Also as hypothesized, media coverage was positively related to availability and to population estimates. Further, we found that population estimates, rated knowledge, and amount of media coverage that each country received were very stable over the year-and-a-half period. These results led us to consider when availability is most likely to be relied upon heavily in quantitative estimation and how it may be integrated with other knowledge to derive quantitative estimates.