The commonly-used satellite images of nighttime lights fail to capture the true brightness of most cities. Our paper develops a correction for this problem and shows that the correct night lights are a reliable proxy for economic activity at the city level.


Download the new GeoTiff images here....


Top lights

Bright cities and their contribution to economic development

Richard Bluhm and Melanie Krause, 2018


Connective Financing

Chinese Infrastructure Projects and the Diffusion of Economic Activity in Developing Countries

Richard Bluhm, Axel Dreher, Andreas Fuchs, Bradley Parks, Austin Strange and Michael Tierney, 2018


How do development projects influence the geographic distribution of economic activity within low-income and middle-income countries?  We introduce an original dataset of geo-located Chinese Government-financed projects in 138 countries from 2000 to 2014 and measure the spatial distribution of economic activity using inequality in night lights.


Download the Chinese projects data here.... 


Regional inequality, convergence, and its determinants

A view from outer space

Christian Lessmann and Andre Seidel, EER, 2017

How unequal are regions within countries? Do most regions catch up, so that we observe convergence? This paper provides a new data set of regional income inequalities within countries based on satellite nighttime light data.


Download the data here....