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Illuminating Indigenous Economic Development

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Abstract

There are over 1,000 First Nations and Inuit communities in Canada. Only 357 of these communities are consistently included in the most comprehensive public data source on economic activity, the Community Well-Being (CWB) Database. We propose using nighttime light density measured by satellites as an alternative indicator of well-being. We show that nighttime light density is an effective proxy for per capita income in the Canadian context and provide evidence that existing publicly available databases on well-being consist of heavily selected samples that systematically exclude many of the least developed communities. We show that sample selection into the publicly available data can lead to incorrect conclusions based on three applications: (i) the comparison of well-being across community types over time; (ii) an analysis of the historical and geographic determinants of economic activity in Indigenous communities; and (iii) a study of the effects of mining intensity close to Indigenous communities. Based on these applications, we suggest that using nighttime light density overcomes the biased selection of communities into the publicly available samples and, thus, may present a more complete picture of economic activity in Canada for Indigenous peoples. JEL Classification: I15, J15,J24

Suggested Citation

  • Donna Feir & Rob Gillezeau & Maggie Jones, 2018. "Illuminating Indigenous Economic Development," Department Discussion Papers 1806, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
  • Handle: RePEc:vic:vicddp:1806
    Note: ISSN 1914-2838
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    File URL: http://www.uvic.ca/socialsciences/economics/assets/docs/discussion/ddp1806.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    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. Donna Feir & Robert L.A. Hancock, 2016. "Answering the Call: A Guide to Reconciliation for Quantitative Social Scientists," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 42(3), pages 350-365, September.
    3. Hoyt Bleakley & Jeffrey Lin, 2012. "Portage and Path Dependence," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 127(2), pages 587-644.
    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. Hoyt Bleakley & Jeffrey Lin, 2010. "Portage: path dependence and increasing returns in U.S. history," Working Papers 10-27, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
    6. Donna Feir & Rob Gillezeau & Maggie Jones, 2017. "The Slaughter of the North American Bison and Reversal of Fortunes on the Great Plains," Department Discussion Papers 1701, Department of Economics, University of Victoria.
    7. Feir, Donna & Gillezeau, Rob & Jones, Maggie E.C., 2019. "The Slaughter of the Bison and Reversal of Fortunes on the Great Plains," Center for Indian Country Development series 1-2019, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    8. 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.
    9. Lessmann, Christian & Seidel, André, 2017. "Regional inequality, convergence, and its determinants – A view from outer space," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 92(C), pages 110-132.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. Christian Dippel, 2014. "Forced Coexistence and Economic Development: Evidence From Native American Reservations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 82, pages 2131-2165, November.
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    1. Feir, Donna & Gillezeau, Rob & Jones, Maggie E.C., 2019. "The Slaughter of the Bison and Reversal of Fortunes on the Great Plains," Center for Indian Country Development series 1-2019, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

    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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