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Economic Rise and Decline in Indonesia – As Seen from Space

  • Olivia, Susan
  • Gibson, John

Satellite-detected luminosity is sometimes used to proxy for economic activity although only recently within the mainstream economics literature (Henderson et al., 2012). If this method works it holds great promise for developing countries with weak statistical systems that face difficulties in consistently measuring long-term economic change. Regardless of how chaotic are statistical efforts on the ground, viewed from space it may be possible to detect economic change, with high frequency and for small areas. But doubts remain about how much trust can be put in night lights data as a proxy for economic growth since previous validation attempts just compare with other error-ridden measures (Henderson et al., 2012; Chen and Nordhaus, 2011; Kulkarni et al., 2011). This paper uses gold standard data on electrification and economic growth for 5000 sub-districts in Indonesia from 1992 to 2008 to evaluate the reliability of night-light based measures of local economic change. Our results also contribute to debate in the literature about the severity of the shock to Indonesia from the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997 and the subsequent rate of rebound in economic activity.

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Paper provided by Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in its series 2013 Annual Meeting, August 4-6, 2013, Washington, D.C. with number 151210.

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Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ags:aaea13:151210
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  1. Ravallion, Martin & Chen, Shaohua, 1999. " When Economic Reform Is Faster Than Statistical Reform: Measuring and Explaining Income Inequality in Rural China," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 61(1), pages 33-56, February.
  2. John Gibson & Steven Stillman & Trinh Le, 2004. "CPI Bias and Real Living Standards in Russia During the Transition," Working Papers in Economics 04/02, University of Waikato, Department of Economics.
  3. Gibson, John & Olivia, Susan, 2010. "The Effect of Infrastructure Access and Quality on Non-Farm Enterprises in Rural Indonesia," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 38(5), pages 717-726, May.
  4. Stefan Dercon, 2003. "Growth and Shocks: evidence from rural Ethiopia," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2003-12, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  5. J. Vernon Henderson & Adam Storeygard & David N. Weil, 2009. "Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space," NBER Working Papers 15199, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Angus Deaton & Alan Heston, 2008. "Understanding PPPs and PPP-based national accounts," NBER Working Papers 14499, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Dercon, Stefan & Gilligan, Daniel O. & Hoddinott, John & Woldehan, Tassew, 2008. "The impact of agricultural extension and roads on poverty and consumption growth in fifteen Ethiopian villages:," IFPRI discussion papers 840, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  8. Hal HILL & Takashi SHIRAISHI, 2007. "Indonesia After the Asian Crisis," Asian Economic Policy Review, Japan Center for Economic Research, vol. 2(1), pages 123-141.
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