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Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space

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Abstract

GDP growth is often measured poorly for countries and rarely measured at all for cities. We propose a readily available proxy: satellite data on lights at night. Our statistical framework uses light growth to supplement existing income growth measures. The framework is applied to countries with the lowest quality income data, resulting in estimates of growth that differ substantially from established estimates. We then consider a longstanding debate: do increases in local agricultural productivity increase city incomes? For African cities, we find that exogenous agricultural productivity shocks (high rainfall years) have substantial effects on local urban economic activity.

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File URL: http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Economics/Papers/2009/2009-8_paper.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Brown University, Department of Economics in its series Working Papers with number 2009-8.

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Date of creation: 2009
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Handle: RePEc:bro:econwp:2009-8

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Postal: Department of Economics, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912

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Keywords: economic growth; remote sensing; urbanization; income measurement;

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