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Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space

Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space Abstract We develop a statistical framework to use satellite data on night lights to augment official income growth measures. For countries with poor national income accounts, the optimal estimate of growth is a composite with roughly equal weights on conventionally measured growth and growth predicted from lights. Our estimates differ from official data by up to three percentage points annually. Using lights, empirical analyses of growth need no longer use countries as the unit of analysis; we can measure growth for sub- and supranational regions. We show, for example, that coastal areas in sub-Saharan Africa are growing slower than the hinterland. (JEL E01, E23, O11, 047, 057 ) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Economic Review American Economic Association

Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space

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References (97)

Publisher
American Economic Association
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 by the American Economic Association
Subject
Articles
ISSN
0002-8282
DOI
10.1257/aer.102.2.994
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Abstract We develop a statistical framework to use satellite data on night lights to augment official income growth measures. For countries with poor national income accounts, the optimal estimate of growth is a composite with roughly equal weights on conventionally measured growth and growth predicted from lights. Our estimates differ from official data by up to three percentage points annually. Using lights, empirical analyses of growth need no longer use countries as the unit of analysis; we can measure growth for sub- and supranational regions. We show, for example, that coastal areas in sub-Saharan Africa are growing slower than the hinterland. (JEL E01, E23, O11, 047, 057 )

Journal

American Economic ReviewAmerican Economic Association

Published: Apr 1, 2012

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