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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

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 (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
Date: 2018
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
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Working Paper: Top Lights: Bright cities and their contribution to economic development (2018) Downloads
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