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Nighttime Lights as a Proxy for Human Development at the Local Level

Author

Listed:
  • Anna Bruederle
  • Roland Hodler

Abstract

Nighttime lights are increasingly used by social scientists as a proxy for economic activity and economic development in subnational spatial units. However, so far, our understanding of what nighttime lights capture is limited. We construct local indicators of household wealth, education and health from geo-coded Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) for 29 African countries. We show that nighttime lights are positively associated with these indicators across DHS cluster locations as well as across grid cells of roughly 50 x 50 km. We conclude that nighttime lights are a good proxy for human development at the local level.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_6555
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    File URL: http://www.cesifo-group.de/DocDL/cesifo1_wp6555.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Adam Storeygard, 2016. "Farther on down the Road: Transport Costs, Trade and Urban Growth in Sub-Saharan Africa," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 83(3), pages 1263-1295.
    2. Martin Brown & Benjamin Guin & Karolin Kirschenmann, 2016. "Microfinance Banks and Financial Inclusion," Review of Finance, European Finance Association, vol. 20(3), pages 907-946.
    3. Deon Filmer & Kinnon Scott, 2012. "Assessing Asset Indices," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 49(1), pages 359-392, February.
    4. De Luca, Giacomo & Hodler, Roland & Raschky, Paul A. & Valsecchi, Michele, 2018. "Ethnic favoritism: An axiom of politics?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 115-129.
    5. World Bank, 2016. "World Development Indicators 2016," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 23969, September.
    6. 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.
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    Cited by:

    1. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2017. "Spatial Patterns of Development: A Meso Approach," NBER Working Papers 24088, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Cuong Nguyen & Ilan Noy, 2018. "Measuring the Impact of Insurance on Urban Recovery with Light: The 2010-2011 New Zealand Earthquakes," CESifo Working Paper Series 7031, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Nguyen, Cuong & Noy, Ilan, 2018. "Measuring the impact of insurance on urban recovery with light: The 2011 New Zealand earthquake," Working Paper Series 6955, Victoria University of Wellington, School of Economics and Finance.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    nighttime lights; local development; Africa;

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development
    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O55 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies - - - Africa

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