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Yao Jiaxiong:Illuminating Economic Growth

Publish Date: 2018/10/25 10:19:13    Hits:

Presenter:Jiaxiong Yao

Time:10.26 12:00-14:00

Location: A1028 


This paper seeks to illuminate the uncertainty in official GDP per capita measures with a focus on low income countries. Using satellite-recorded nighttime lights as a proxy for GDP per capita, we estimate the elasticity of nighttime lights to income and the distribution of errors in official GDP per capita data in a measurement error model framework. We then construct a more precise measure of GDP per capita using both nighttime lights and official national accounts data. We find that the elasticity decreases from well above 2 to below 0.5 as GDP per capita rises. GDP per capita measures are less precise for low income countries and nighttime lights can play a bigger role in improving such measures. The impreciseness mainly stems from two sources: poor measurement of the economy disrupted by conflicts and systemic recording difference.


Jiaxiong Yao, an economist at the IMF, currently works on using satellite images to understand economic growth.He joined the IMF in 2016 after completing his doctoral degree in Economics from Johns Hopkins University. His research interests are in the areas of consumer finance, macroeconomics with micro foundations, and machine learning. He obtained his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Tsinghua University.