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Estimation of Gross Domestic Product at Sub-National Scales using Nighttime Satellite Imagery

Paul C. Sutton, Christopher D. Elvidge, Tilottama Ghosh


There is a degree of uncertainty in the measurement and/or validation of national and sub-national economic data such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP). In some circumstances it can be very useful to have alternative measures of numbers like GDP to provide evidence for the validation or invalidation of claims of some nations or regions regarding their economic productivity. This research explores the feasibility of developing predictive relationships between observed changes in nighttime satellite images derived from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program’s Operational Line scan System (DMSP-OLS), and changes in population and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).


nighttime satellite imagery, GDP estimation, informal economy, GIS, remote sensing

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