The Private Impact of Public Maps: Landsat Satellite Imagery and Gold Exploration

Posted: 23 Jul 2016

Date Written: July 17, 2016

Abstract

For centuries, governments have invested in new maps of poorly-understood geographies and yet the economic value of publicly-provided geographic information remains unexamined. To shed light on this topic, I focus on the impact of Landsat, a NASA satellite mapping program, on shaping the discovery of new deposits in the gold exploration industry. Exploiting quasi-random gaps in mapping coverage, I find that information from Landsat nearly doubled the rate of significant new discoveries and disproportionately supported the junior sector of the industry. These findings suggest an important role for the public provision of basic knowledge in encouraging industry performance and entrepreneurship.

Keywords: landsat, mapping, digitization, public investments

Suggested Citation

Nagaraj, Abhishek, The Private Impact of Public Maps: Landsat Satellite Imagery and Gold Exploration (July 17, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2810762

Abhishek Nagaraj (Contact Author)

UC Berkeley-Haas ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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