The Value of Luminosity Data as a Proxy for Economic Statistics

44 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2010

See all articles by Xi Chen

Xi Chen

Department of Health Policy and Management; Yale University - Department of Economics; Yale University - Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies; IZA

William D. Nordhaus

Yale University - Department of Economics; Cowles Foundation, Yale University; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 26, 2010

Abstract

One of the pervasive issues in social and environmental research has been to improve the quality of socioeconomic data in developing countries. Because of the shortcoming of standard data sources, the present study examines luminosity (measures of nighttime lights) as a proxy for standard measures of output. The paper compares output and luminosity at the country levels and at the 1° x 1° grid-cell levels for the period 1992-2008. The results are that luminosity has very little value added for countries with high-quality statistical systems. However, it may be useful for countries with the lowest statistical grades, particularly for war-torn countries with no recent population or economic censuses. The results also indicate that luminosity has more value added for economic density estimates than for time-series growth rates.

Keywords: Luminosity, Proxy Variable, Measurement Error in GDP, Gross Grid-Cell Product

JEL Classification: E01, O47, Q4

Suggested Citation

Chen, Xi and Nordhaus, William D., The Value of Luminosity Data as a Proxy for Economic Statistics (August 26, 2010). Cowles Foundation Discussion Paper No. 1766. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1666164 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1666164

Xi Chen (Contact Author)

Department of Health Policy and Management ( email )

60 College St
New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States

Yale University - Yale Institution for Social and Policy Studies ( email )

77 Prospect Street
New Haven, CT 06520
United States

HOME PAGE: http://isps.yale.edu/team/xi-chen

IZA ( email )

William D. Nordhaus

Yale University - Department of Economics ( email )

28 Hillhouse Ave
New Haven, CT 06520-8268
United States
203-432-3598 (Phone)
203-432-5779 (Fax)

Cowles Foundation, Yale University ( email )

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Here is the Coronavirus
related research on SSRN

Paper statistics

Downloads
59
Abstract Views
883
rank
311,782
PlumX Metrics