Chat with David Weil on Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space

In this episode we chat with David Weil about his paper “Measuring Economic Growth from Outer Space’”. David and his co-authors, J. Vernon Henderson and Adam Storeygard, use nigh lights from satellite data as a proxy for GDP measure. As an application, they examine growth in Sub Saharan African regions over the last 17 years. They find that real incomes in non-coastal areas have grown faster by 1/3 of an annual percentage point than coastal areas; non-malarial areas have grown faster than malarial ones by 1/3 to 2/3 annual percent points; and primate city regions have grown no faster than hinterland areas. Such applications point toward a research program in which “empirical growth” need no longer be synonymous with “national income accounts.”

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