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A Bright Idea for Measuring Economic Growth

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Author Info

  • Vernon Henderson
  • Adam Storeygard
  • David N. Weil

Abstract

The quantity of human-generated light visible from outer space reflects variation in both population density and income per capita. In this paper we explore the usefulness of the change in visible light as a measure of GDP growth. We discuss the data, and then present a statistical framework that uses lights growth to augment existing income growth measures, assuming that measurement errors in the two series are uncorrelated. For some countries with very poor income measurement, we significantly revise estimates of growth. Our technique also produces growth estimates for cities or regions where no other data are available.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.101.3.194
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Review.

Volume (Year): 101 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (May)
Pages: 194-99

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:101:y:2011:i:3:p:194-99

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References

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  1. Simon Johnson & William Larson & Chris Papageorgiou & Arvind Subramanian, 2009. "Is Newer Better? Penn World Table Revisions and Their Impact on Growth Estimates," Working Papers 191, Center for Global Development.
  2. J. Vernon Henderson & Adam Storeygard & David N. Weil, 2012. "Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 994-1028, April.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Régis Chenavaz & Octavio Escobar, 2012. "Effective area as a measure of land factor," Economics Bulletin, AccessEcon, vol. 32(3), pages 1962-1969.
  2. Mellander, Charlotta & Stolarick, Kevin & Matheson, Zara & Lobo, José, 2013. "Night-Time Light Data: A Good Proxy Measure for Economic Activity?," Working Paper Series in Economics and Institutions of Innovation 315, Royal Institute of Technology, CESIS - Centre of Excellence for Science and Innovation Studies.
  3. Kahn, Matthew E. & Kok, Nils & Quigley, John M., 2014. "Carbon emissions from the commercial building sector: The role of climate, quality, and incentives," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 1-12.
  4. Nicola Gennaioli & Rafael Laporta & Florencio López-de-Silanes & Andrei Schleifer, 2011. "Human Capital and Regional Development," Working Papers 581, Barcelona Graduate School of Economics.
  5. Matthew E. Kahn & Nils Kok & John M. Quigley, 2013. "Commercial Building Electricity Consumption Dynamics: The Role of Structure Quality, Human Capital, and Contract Incentives," NBER Working Papers 18781, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Michael Greenstone & B. Kelsey Jack, 2013. "Envirodevonomics: A Research Agenda for a Young Field," NBER Working Papers 19426, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Brown, Martin & Guin, Benjamin & Kirschenmann, Karolin, 2013. "Microfinance Banks and Household Access to Finance," Working Papers on Finance 1302, University of St. Gallen, School of Finance.
  8. Storeygard, Adam, 2013. "Farther on down the road : transport costs, trade and urban growth in Sub-Saharan Africa," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6444, The World Bank.

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