Economy, as Seen From Space

Van Mensvoort
October 7th 2009

Reliable data on economic growth is hard to come by in many parts of the world, especially in developing countries. Yet according to scientists, outer space offers a new perspective for measuring economic growth.

Using satellite images of nighttime lights, J. Vernon Henderson, Adam Storeygard, and David N. Weil from Brown University have created a new framework for estimating a country or region’s gross domestic product, or GDP by observing the changes in a country's "night lights" as seen from outer space.

“Consumption of nearly all goods in the evening requires lights,” they write in a National Bureau of Economic Research working paper. “As income rises, so does light usage per person, in both consumption activities and many investment activities.”

The researchers don’t envision the lights density data as a replacement for official numbers, but when added to existing data from agencies like the World Bank, the lights density can provide a better indicator of how these economies really are performing.

satellite-photo-united-states-at-night_530.jpg
USA and Canada still going strong or are the lights dimming over there?

satellite-photo-of-europe-at-night_530.jpg
Absolutely devastating difference between Europe and Africa.

satellite-photo-of-asia-at-night_530.jpg
Japan brightly lid, India & China lighting up. The difference between North and South Korea is stark. Are those people in Australia energy saving perhaps?

satellite-photo-of-south-america-at-night_530.jpg
South America is lighting up. Including the rain forest?

Source: Futurity.org. Images: Night Satellite Photos. Related: World Mapper: Toys import/exports of the world, If the implications of Global Warming were fair, Constellation, Mapping the DNA world.

Share your thoughts and join the technology debate!public: 1

8 comments

Chris
Posted 16/08/2013 – 18:33

it would be cool to see a some timelapse imagery of this....

alvin
Posted 31/01/2012 – 02:13

Idiot! There are cities in the middle of Amazônia.

esmail
Posted 06/10/2011 – 12:08

in other side this pictures discribe which countires were colony.
like africa that colony with europe
cenratl asia (turkmenistan,uzbekistan . . .)with russia

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Siri Beerends: I really embrace the idea that viruses can teach us a lesson in modesty. It is necessary that our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged. I also agree that it is a mistake to think that we are becoming Gods. But unfortunately, this is actually what is happening now. Corona doesn’t teach us to be modest, it teaches us how we can -as quickly as possible- go back to business as usual: saving our capitalistic economy.

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