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NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Detecting Urban Markets with Satellite Imagery: An Application to India

Kathryn Baragwanath Vogel, Ran Goldblatt, Gordon H. Hanson, Amit K. Khandelwal

NBER Working Paper No. 24796
Issued in July 2018, Revised in May 2019
NBER Program(s):Development Economics Program, International Trade and Investment Program

We propose a methodology for defining urban markets based on built-up land-cover classified from daytime satellite imagery. Compared to markets defined using minimum thresholds for nighttime light intensity, daytime imagery identify an order of magnitude more markets, capture more of India's urban population, are more realistically jagged in shape, and reveal more variation in the spatial distribution of economic activity. We conclude that daytime satellite data are a promising source for the study of urban forms.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w24796

 
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