Top Lights - Bright Cities and their Contribution to Economic Development
Richard Bluhm and
Melanie Krause ()
No 7411, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo Group Munich
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 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: O10 O18 R11 R12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-big, nep-geo, nep-gro, nep-his and nep-ure
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Working Paper: Top Lights: Bright cities and their contribution to economic development (2018)
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Persistent link: https://EconPapers.repec.org/RePEc:ces:ceswps:_7411
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