Income or Politics: A Study of Satellite Streetlight Imagery Application in Pakistan

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2013
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Abstract: 

The nighttime satellite images of streetlights are used increasingly by scholars as potentially useful measures of economic performance in developing countries, which often su§er from lack of accurate census data to make the assessment of subnational income levels di¢ cult. However, the lights are also reáective of the level of basic public goods and infrastructure provision. The validity of using the luminosity data as an income measure therefore depends heavily on the politics of local government in providing the public goods. The following paper evaluates the extent to which the light data captures both economic and political factors.