Spatial Patterns of Development: A Meso Approach

41 Pages Posted: 8 Jan 2018

See all articles by Stelios Michalopoulos

Stelios Michalopoulos

Brown University - Department of Economics; Brown University

Elias Papaioannou

London Business School

Multiple version iconThere are 3 versions of this paper

Date Written: January 2018


Over the last two decades, the literature on comparative development has moved from country-level to within-country analyses. The questions asked have expanded, as economists have used satellite images of light density at night and other big spatial data to proxy for development at the desired level. The focus has also shifted from uncovering correlations to identifying causal relations, using elaborate econometric techniques including spatial regression discontinuity designs. In this survey we show how the combination of geographic information systems with insights from disciplines ranging from the earth sciences to linguistics and history has transformed the research landscape on the roots of the spatial patterns of development. We discuss the limitations of the luminosity data and associated econometric techniques and conclude by offering some thoughts on future research.

JEL Classification: N00, N9, O10, O43, O55

Suggested Citation

Michalopoulos, Stelios and Papaioannou, Elias, Spatial Patterns of Development: A Meso Approach (January 2018). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP12574. Available at SSRN:

Stelios Michalopoulos (Contact Author)

Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )

64 Waterman Street
Providence, RI 02912
United States

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Brown University ( email )

Box 1860
Providence, RI 02912
United States

Elias Papaioannou

London Business School ( email )

Sussex Place
Regent's Park
London, London NW1 4SA
United Kingdom

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