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.”