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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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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Cecilia Bellora & Élodie Blanc & Jean-Marc Bourgeon & Eric Strobl, 2018. "Estimating the Impact of Crop Diversity on Agricultural Productivity in South Africa," NBER Chapters,in: Agricultural Productivity and Producer Behavior National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Peter H. Egger & Marko Köthenbürger & Gabriel Loumeau, 2017. "Local Border Reforms and Economic Activity," CESifo Working Paper Series 6738, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Neeraj Baruah & J. Vernon Henderson & Cong Peng, 2017. "Colonial Legacies: Shaping African Cities," SERC Discussion Papers 0226, Spatial Economics Research Centre, LSE.
    4. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2017. "Spatial Patterns of Development: A Meso Approach," Working Papers 4, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute.
    5. Cerami, Alfio, 2018. "The Lights of Iraq: Electricity Usage and the Iraqi War-fare Regime," MPRA Paper 87276, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    6. Diego Restuccia & Tasso Adamopoulos, 2017. "Geography and Agricultural Productivity: Cross-Country Evidence from Micro Plot-Level Data," 2017 Meeting Papers 1180, Society for Economic Dynamics.
    7. repec:eee:juecon:v:103:y:2018:i:c:p:34-51 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. repec:eee:wdevel:v:104:y:2018:i:c:p:281-296 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Anna Bruederle & Roland Hodler, 2017. "Nighttime Lights as a Proxy for Human Development at the Local Level," CESifo Working Paper Series 6555, CESifo Group Munich.
    10. Donna Feir & Rob Gillezeau & Maggie Jones, 2017. "The Slaughter of the North American Bison and Reversal of Fortunes on the Great Plains," Department Discussion Papers 1701, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
    11. Cerami, Alfio, 2018. "The Night Lights of North Korea. Prosperity Shining and Public Policy Governance," MPRA Paper 87281, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 13 Jun 2018.
    12. Jaqueson K Galimberti, 2017. "Forecasting GDP growth from the outer space," KOF Working papers 17-427, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
    13. repec:eee:jeeman:v:86:y:2017:i:c:p:1-7 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:eee:deveco:v:133:y:2018:i:c:p:264-274 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Gabriel Felbermayr & Jasmin Katrin Gröschl & Mark Sanders & Vincent Schippers & Thomas Steinwachs, 2018. "Shedding Light on the Spatial Diffusion of Disasters," CESifo Working Paper Series 7146, CESifo Group Munich.
    16. Donna Feir & Rob Gillezeau & Maggie Jones, 2017. "Illuminating Economic Development in Indigenous Communities," Department Discussion Papers 1704, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.

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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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