IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/22216.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Newer Need Not be Better: Evaluating the Penn World Tables and the World Development Indicators Using Nighttime Lights

Author

Listed:
  • Maxim Pinkovskiy
  • Xavier Sala-i-Martin

Abstract

Nighttime lights data are a measure of economic activity whose error is plausibly independent of the measurement errors of most conventional indicators. Therefore, we can use nighttime lights as an independent benchmark to assess existing measures of economic activity (Pinkovskiy and Sala-i-Martin (2016)). We employ this insight to find out which vintages of the Penn World Tables and of the World Development Indicators better estimate true income per capita. We find that revisions of the PWT do not necessarily dominate their predecessors in terms of explaining nighttime lights (and thus, predicting unobserved true income). In particular, we find that the PWT 7.1 chain-based GDP series substantially outperforms the constant-price series in both PWT 8.0 and PWT 8.1, the two most recent vintages of the PWT. We additionally find that the World Development Indicators are as good, and often better, measures of unobserved true income as are any recent vintages of the Penn World Tables. Furthermore, we find that each new round of the International Comparisons Programme (ICP) has improved the WDI's ability to predict log unobserved true income. We also find that vintages tend to be good or bad at predicting unobserved true income roughly equally across the sample period, and do not tend to be particularly good at predicting unobserved income in the year of their price survey. We conclude that GDP series based on unadjusted domestic growth rates alone predict growth rates of true income better than series based on PPP adjustments to growth rates.

Suggested Citation

  • Maxim Pinkovskiy & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2016. "Newer Need Not be Better: Evaluating the Penn World Tables and the World Development Indicators Using Nighttime Lights," NBER Working Papers 22216, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22216
    Note: DEV EFG
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w22216.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Elias Papaioannou, 2014. "National Institutions and Subnational Development in Africa," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 129(1), pages 151-213.
    2. Robert C. Feenstra & Robert Inklaar & Marcel P. Timmer, 2015. "The Next Generation of the Penn World Table," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(10), pages 3150-3182, October.
    3. Jerry Hausman, 2001. "Mismeasured Variables in Econometric Analysis: Problems from the Right and Problems from the Left," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 15(4), pages 57-67, Fall.
    4. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2013. "Pre‐Colonial Ethnic Institutions and Contemporary African Development," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 81(1), pages 113-152, January.
    5. Antonio Ciccone & Marek Jarociński, 2010. "Determinants of Economic Growth: Will Data Tell?," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 2(4), pages 222-246, October.
    6. Robert J. Barro, 1991. "Economic Growth in a Cross Section of Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 106(2), pages 407-443.
    7. Johnson, Simon & Larson, William & Papageorgiou, Chris & Subramanian, Arvind, 2013. "Is newer better? Penn World Table Revisions and their impact on growth estimates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 255-274.
    8. World Bank, 2006. "World Development Indicators 2006," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 8151, December.
    9. Maxim Pinkovskiy & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2016. "Lights, Camera … Income! Illuminating the National Accounts-Household Surveys Debate," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 131(2), pages 579-631.
    10. J. Vernon Henderson & Adam Storeygard & David N. Weil, 2012. "Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(2), pages 994-1028, April.
    11. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2018. "Spatial Patterns of Development: A Meso Approach," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 10(1), pages 383-410, August.
    2. Peter A.G. van Bergeijk, 2017. "Making Data Measurement Errors Transparent: The Case of the IMF," World Economics, World Economics, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 18(3), pages 133-154, July.
    3. Roger, Lionel, 2019. "A replication of "The long-run impact of foreign aid in 36 African countries: Insights from multivariate time series analysis" (Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 2014)," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal (2007-2020), Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 13, pages 1-53.
    4. Majdi Debbich, 2019. "Assessing Oil and Non-Oil GDP Growth from Space: An Application to Yemen 2012-17," IMF Working Papers 2019/221, International Monetary Fund.
    5. Paul Johnson & Chris Papageorgiou, 2020. "What Remains of Cross-Country Convergence?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 58(1), pages 129-175, March.
    6. Campbell, Susanna G. & Üngör, Murat, 2020. "Revisiting human capital and aggregate income differences," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 43-64.
    7. Adhvaryu, Achyuta & Fenske, James & Khanna, Gaurav & Nyshadham, Anant, 2021. "Resources, conflict, and economic development in Africa," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 149(C).
    8. Verme, Paolo & Schuettler, Kirsten, 2021. "The impact of forced displacement on host communities: A review of the empirical literature in economics," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C).
    9. Pui Sun Tam, 2018. "Economic Transition and Growth Dynamics in Asia: Harmony or Discord?," Comparative Economic Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Association for Comparative Economic Studies, vol. 60(3), pages 361-387, September.
    10. Clark, Hunter & Pinkovskiy, Maxim & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 2020. "China's GDP growth may be understated," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    11. Kacprzyk, Andrzej & Kuchta, Zbigniew, 2020. "Shining a new light on the environmental Kuznets curve for CO2 emissions," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
    12. Pavel S. Pronin, 2020. "International Trade And Democracy: How Trade Partners Affect Regime Change And Persistence," HSE Working papers WP BRP 75/PS/2020, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    13. Masayuki Kudamatsu, 2019. "Observing Economic Growth in Unrecognized States with Nighttime Light," OSIPP Discussion Paper 19E002, Osaka School of International Public Policy, Osaka University.
    14. Christian Bjørnskov & Stefan Voigt, 2020. "When Does Terror Induce a State of Emergency? And What Are the Effects?," Journal of Conflict Resolution, Peace Science Society (International), vol. 64(4), pages 579-613, April.
    15. Roberto Samaniego & Juliana Sun, 2020. "The Relative Price of Capital and Economic Structure," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 37, pages 127-155, July.

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Maxim Pinkovskiy & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2018. "Shining a Light on Purchasing Power Parities," NBER Working Papers 24419, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Maxim Pinkovskiy & Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2015. "Lights, Camera,... Income! Estimating Poverty Using National Accounts, Survey Means and Lights," LIS Working papers 645, LIS Cross-National Data Center in Luxembourg.
    3. Maxim L. Pinkovskiy & Xavier X. Sala-i-Martin, 2014. "Lights, camera,...income! Estimating poverty using national accounts, survey means, and lights," Staff Reports 669, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
    4. Kacprzyk, Andrzej & Kuchta, Zbigniew, 2020. "Shining a new light on the environmental Kuznets curve for CO2 emissions," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
    5. Prakash, Nishith & Rockmore, Marc & Uppal, Yogesh, 2019. "Do criminally accused politicians affect economic outcomes? Evidence from India," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 141(C).
    6. Felbermayr, Gabriel & Gröschl, Jasmin & Sanders, Mark & Schippers, Vincent & Steinwachs, Thomas, 2018. "Shedding Light on the Spatial Diffusion of Disasters," VfS Annual Conference 2018 (Freiburg, Breisgau): Digital Economy 181556, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    7. Doppelhofer, Gernot & Hansen, Ole-Petter Moe & Weeks, Melvyn, 2016. "Determinants of long-term economic Growth redux: A Measurement Error Model Averaging (MEMA) approach," Discussion Paper Series in Economics 19/2016, Norwegian School of Economics, Department of Economics.
    8. 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.
    9. Clark, Hunter & Pinkovskiy, Maxim & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 2020. "China's GDP growth may be understated," China Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 62(C).
    10. Indaco, Agustín, 2020. "From twitter to GDP: Estimating economic activity from social media," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 85(C).
    11. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2010. "Divide and Rule or the Rule of the Divided? Evidence from Africa," CEPR Discussion Papers 8088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. Jaqueson K. Galimberti, 2020. "Forecasting GDP Growth from Outer Space," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 82(4), pages 697-722, August.
    13. Stelios Michalopoulos & Elias Papaioannou, 2018. "Spatial Patterns of Development: A Meso Approach," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 10(1), pages 383-410, August.
    14. Jie Zhang, 2021. "More political representation, more economic development? Evidence from Turkey," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 187(3), pages 275-299, June.
    15. Jones, C.I., 2016. "The Facts of Economic Growth," Handbook of Macroeconomics, in: J. B. Taylor & Harald Uhlig (ed.), Handbook of Macroeconomics, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 0, pages 3-69, Elsevier.
    16. Roger, Lionel, 2019. "A replication of "The long-run impact of foreign aid in 36 African countries: Insights from multivariate time series analysis" (Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 2014)," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal (2007-2020), Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 13, pages 1-53.
    17. Donna Feir & Rob Gillezeau & Maggie Jones, 2017. "Illuminating Economic Development in Indigenous Communities," Department Discussion Papers 1704, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
    18. Zhang, Ping & Shi, XunPeng & Sun, YongPing & Cui, Jingbo & Shao, Shuai, 2019. "Have China's provinces achieved their targets of energy intensity reduction? Reassessment based on nighttime lighting data," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 128(C), pages 276-283.
    19. Richard Bluhm & Melanie Krause, 2018. "Top Lights - Bright Cities and their Contribution to Economic Development," CESifo Working Paper Series 7411, CESifo.
    20. Boone, Catherine & Simson, Rebecca, 2019. "Regional inequalities in African political economy: theory, conceptualization and measurement, and political effects," Economic History Working Papers 100861, London School of Economics and Political Science, Department of Economic History.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22216. 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: . General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.