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Illuminating Economic Development in Indigenous Communities

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Abstract

There are over 1,000 First Nations and Inuit communities in Canada. However, the most comprehensive public data source on economic activity, the Community Well-Being (CWB) database, only includes consistent data for 357 of these communities every five years between 1991 and 2011. We propose an alternative measure of economic well-being that is available annually since 1992 for all First Nations, Inuit, and non-Indigenous communities in Canada: nighttime light density from satellites. Nighttime light data have been used by development economists to measure economic activity elsewhere and have been shown to be a flexible alternative to traditional measures of economic activity. We find that nighttime light density is a useful proxy for per capita income in the Canadian context and provide evidence of sample selection issues with the pre-existing indicators of well-being in First Nations and Inuit communities. We suggest that using nighttime light density overcomes the biased selection of communities into the CWB samples and thus may present a more complete picture of economic activity in Canada.

Suggested Citation

  • Donna Feir & Rob Gillezeau & Maggie Jones, 2017. "Illuminating Economic Development in Indigenous Communities," Department Discussion Papers 1704, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
  • Handle: RePEc:vic:vicddp:1704
    Note: ISSN 1914-2838
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Light density; nighttime light density; Indigenous peoples; Economic development; Community Well-Being Index;

    JEL classification:

    • I15 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Health and Economic Development
    • J15 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Economics of Minorities, Races, Indigenous Peoples, and Immigrants; Non-labor Discrimination
    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity

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