IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Lights, Camera,... Income!: Estimating Poverty Using National Accounts, Survey Means, and Lights

Listed author(s):
  • Maxim Pinkovskiy
  • Xavier Sala-i-Martin

In this paper we try to understand whether national accounts GDP per capita or survey mean income or consumption better proxy for true income per capita. We propose a data-driven method to assess the relative quality of GDP per capita versus survey means by comparing the evolution of each series to the evolution of satellite-recorded nighttime lights. Our main assumption, which is robust to a variety of specification checks, is that the measurement error in nighttime lights is unrelated to the measurement errors in either national accounts or survey means. We obtain estimates of weights on national accounts and survey means in an optimal proxy for true income; these weights are very large for national accounts and very modest for survey means. We conclusively reject the null hypothesis that the optimal weight on surveys is greater than the optimal weight on national accounts, and we generally fail to reject the null hypothesis that the optimal weight on surveys is zero. Using the estimated optimal weights, we compute estimates of true income per capita and $1/day poverty rates for the developing world and its regions. We get poverty estimates that are substantially lower and fall substantially faster than those of Chen and Ravallion (2010) or of the survey-based poverty literature more generally.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w19831.pdf
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19831.

as
in new window

Length:
Date of creation: Jan 2014
Publication status: published as Lights, Camera, … Income! Illuminating the National Accounts-Household Surveys Debate With Xavier Sala-i-Martin The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 131 (2): 579-631, May 2016
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19831
Note: DEV EFG
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page: http://www.nber.org
Email:


More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as
in new window


  1. Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1997. "I Just Ran Two Million Regressions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(2), pages 178-183, May.
  2. Casey B. Mulligan & Xavier Sala-i-Martin & Ricard Gil, 2003. "Do Democracies Have Different Public Policies than Nondemocracies?," NBER Working Papers 10040, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Angus Deaton, 2010. "Price indexes, inequality, and the measurement of world poverty," Working Papers 1207, Princeton University, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Research Program in Development Studies..
  4. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James Robinson, 2003. "Disease and Development in Historical Perspective," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(2-3), pages 397-405, 04/05.
  5. Xavier Sala-I-Martin & Gernot Doppelhofer & Ronald I. Miller, 2004. "Determinants of Long-Term Growth: A Bayesian Averaging of Classical Estimates (BACE) Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(4), pages 813-835, September.
  6. Alberto Alesina & Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2016. "Ethnic Inequality," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 124(2), pages 428-488.
  7. Acemoglu, Daron & Johnson, Simon & Robinson, James A & Yared, Pierre, 2005. "Income and Democracy," CEPR Discussion Papers 5273, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  8. N. Gregory Mankiw & David Romer & David N. Weil, 1990. "A Contribution to the Empirics of Economic Growth," NBER Working Papers 3541, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. repec:pri:rpdevs:presidential%20address%2017january%202010%20all is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Shaohua Chen & Martin Ravallion, 2010. "The Developing World is Poorer than We Thought, But No Less Successful in the Fight Against Poverty," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 125(4), pages 1577-1625.
  11. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2002. "Reversal of Fortune: Geography and Institutions in the Making of the Modern World Income Distribution," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1231-1294.
  12. François Bourguignon & Christian Morrisson, 2002. "Inequality Among World Citizens: 1820-1992," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 727-744, September.
  13. Vernon Henderson & Adam Storeygard & David N. Weil, 2009. "Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space," Working Papers 2009-8, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  14. Sala-I-Martin, X. & Barro, R.J., 1991. "Public Finance in Models of Economic Growth," Papers 640, Yale - Economic Growth Center.
  15. Simon Johnson & William Larson & Chris Papageorgiou & Arvind Subramanian, 2009. "Is Newer Better? Penn World Table Revisions and Their Impact on Growth Estimates," NBER Working Papers 15455, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2002. "The World Distribution of Income (estimated from Individual Country Distributions)," NBER Working Papers 8933, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Robert J. Barro, 1989. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," NBER Working Papers 3120, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Alwyn Young, 2012. "The African Growth Miracle," NBER Working Papers 18490, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  19. Shatakshee Dhongde & Camelia Minoiu, 2010. "Global poverty estimates: Present and future," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 13310, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
  20. Angus Deaton, 2005. "Measuring Poverty in a Growing World (or Measuring Growth in a Poor World)," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(1), pages 1-19, February.
  21. Rafael LaPorta & Florencio Lopez-de-Silanes & Andrei Shleifer & Robert W. Vishny, "undated". "Law and Finance," Working Paper 19451, Harvard University OpenScholar.
  22. de la Grandville,Olivier, 2009. "Economic Growth," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521898010, December.
  23. Anton Korinek & Johan Mistiaen & Martin Ravallion, 2006. "Survey nonresponse and the distribution of income," The Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer;Society for the Study of Economic Inequality, vol. 4(1), pages 33-55, April.
  24. Lopez-de-Silanes, Florencio & La Porta, Rafael & Shleifer, Andrei, 2008. "The Economic Consequences of Legal Origins," Scholarly Articles 2962610, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  25. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2012. "Pre-colonial Ethnic Institutions and Contemporary African Development," CEPR Discussion Papers 9068, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  26. Chen, Shaohua & Ravallion, Martin, 2004. "How Have the World's Poorest Fared Since the Early 1980s?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3341, The World Bank.
  27. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2012. "National Institutions and Subnational Development in Africa," NBER Working Papers 18275, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  28. Pinkovskiy, Maxim L., 2013. "World welfare is rising: Estimation using nonparametric bounds on welfare measures," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 176-195.
  29. Xavier Sala-i-Martin & Maxim Pinkovskiy, 2010. "African Poverty is Falling...Much Faster than You Think!," NBER Working Papers 15775, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  30. de la Grandville,Olivier, 2009. "Economic Growth," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521725200, December.
  31. Shaohua Chen & Ravallion, Martin, 2000. "How did the world's poorest fare in the 1990s ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2409, The World Bank.
  32. Alwyn Young, 2012. "The African Growth Miracle," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 120(4), pages 696-739.
  33. Maxim Pinkovskiy & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2009. "Parametric Estimations of the World Distribution of Income," NBER Working Papers 15433, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  34. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2002. "The Disturbing "Rise" of Global Income Inequality," NBER Working Papers 8904, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  35. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & James A. Robinson, 2000. "The Colonial Origins of Comparative Development: An Empirical Investigation," NBER Working Papers 7771, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  36. repec:pri:rpdevs:presidential%20address%2017january%202010%20all.pdf is not listed on IDEAS
  37. Facundo Alvaredo & Leonardo Gasparini, 2013. "Recent Trends in Inequality and Poverty in Developing Countries," CEDLAS, Working Papers 0151, CEDLAS, Universidad Nacional de La Plata.
  38. World Bank, 2013. "World Development Indicators 2013," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 13191, April.
  39. Angus Deaton, 2005. "ERRATUM: Measuring Poverty in a Growing World (or Measuring Growth in a Poor World)," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 87(2), pages 395-395, May.
  40. Doll, Christopher N.H. & Muller, Jan-Peter & Morley, Jeremy G., 2006. "Mapping regional economic activity from night-time light satellite imagery," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 75-92, April.
  41. Surjit Bhalla, 2002. "Imagine There's No Country: Poverty, Inequality, and Growth in the Era of Globalization," Peterson Institute Press: All Books, Peterson Institute for International Economics, number 348, 03.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19831. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.