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Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space

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  • J. Vernon Henderson
  • Adam Storeygard
  • David N. Weil

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)

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/aer.102.2.994
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Bibliographic Info

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

Volume (Year): 102 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 994-1028

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aecrev:v:102:y:2012:i:2:p:994-1028

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References

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  5. Martin Browning & Thomas Crossley, 2009. "Are Two Cheap, Noisy Measures Better Than One Expensive, Accurate One?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(2), pages 99-103, May.
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  9. Fürnkranz-Prskawetz, Alexia & Kögel, Tomas, 2000. "Agricultural Productivity Growth and Escape from the Malthusian Trap," CEPR Discussion Papers 2485, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
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  26. International Monetary Fund, 2006. "Jamaica: Selected Issues," IMF Staff Country Reports 06/157, International Monetary Fund.
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    by Dave in voluntaryXchange on 2012-05-06 21:40:10
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