Top Lights - Bright Cities and Their Contribution to Economic Development

82 Pages Posted: 21 Feb 2019

See all articles by Richard Bluhm

Richard Bluhm

Leibniz University Hannover; UNU-MERIT; Maastricht Graduate School of Governance

Melanie Krause

University of Hamburg - Department of Economics

Date Written: 2018

Abstract

The commonly-used satellite images of nighttime lights fail to capture the true brightness of most cities. We show that night lights are a reliable proxy for economic activity at the city level, provided they are first corrected for top-coding. We present a stylized model of urban luminosity and empirical evidence which both suggest that these ‘top lights’ follow a Pareto distribution. We then propose a simple correction procedure which recovers the full distribution of city lights. Applying this approach to cities in Sub-Saharan Africa, we find that primate cities are outgrowing secondary cities but are changing from within.

Keywords: development, urban growth, night lights, top-coding, inequality

JEL Classification: O100, O180, R110, R120

Suggested Citation

Bluhm, Richard and Krause, Melanie, Top Lights - Bright Cities and Their Contribution to Economic Development (2018). CESifo Working Paper No. 7411, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3338765

Richard Bluhm (Contact Author)

Leibniz University Hannover ( email )

Institute of Macroeconomics
Koenigsworther Platz 1
Hannover, 30167
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://mak.uni-hannover.de

UNU-MERIT ( email )

Keizer Karelplein 19
Maastricht, 6211TC
Netherlands

Maastricht Graduate School of Governance ( email )

Keizer Karelplein 19
PO Box 616
Maastricht, 6200MD
Netherlands

Melanie Krause

University of Hamburg - Department of Economics ( email )

Von-Melle-Park 5
room 2128 C rise
Hamburg, 20146
Germany

HOME PAGE: http://www.melanie-krause.de

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