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The View from Above: Applications of Satellite Data in Economics

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  • Dave Donaldson
  • Adam Storeygard

Abstract

The past decade or so has seen a dramatic change in the way that economists can learn by watching our planet from above. A revolution has taken place in remote sensing and allied fields such as computer science, engineering, and geography. Petabytes of satellite imagery have become publicly accessible at increasing resolution, many algorithms for extracting meaningful social science information from these images are now routine, and modern cloud-based processing power allows these algorithms to be run at global scale. This paper seeks to introduce economists to the science of remotely sensed data, and to give a flavor of how this new source of data has been used by economists so far and what might be done in the future.

Suggested Citation

  • Dave Donaldson & Adam Storeygard, 2016. "The View from Above: Applications of Satellite Data in Economics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 30(4), pages 171-198, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:30:y:2016:i:4:p:171-98
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.30.4.171
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    JEL classification:

    • A10 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - General
    • C80 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Data Collection and Data Estimation Methodology; Computer Programs - - - General

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