Wrinkles in measuring GDP from space

At Roving Bandit ("Probably the best economics blog in southern Sudan"), the Skeptical Bandit lists some good objections to the catchy idea of measuring GDP from space (which I mentioned here). His points about accuracy are well-taken; his point about extractive industries not showing up is theoretically on point, but if we care about economic growth as it contributes to human welfare, I wonder whether this is actually a better measure than GDP (after all, if the wealth from natural resources isn't finding its way into the community, is that really GDP we want to be conuting?).

The original MR post also cites the WSJ saying that the effect of resources do actually show up in pseudo-controlled situations:
They also noted how data from night lights can be focused to provide data on a local level. In Southern Madagascar large deposits of rubies and sapphires were discovered in late 1998 near the towns of Ilakaka and Sakaraha, leading to an economic boom. But the data from the satellites tell the story of where the benefits were felt most deeply. “Over the next five years there was a sharp growth in the number of pixels for which light is visible at all, and in the intensity of light per pixel,” the economists said. “The other town visible in the figure, Ihosy, shows no such growth. If anything, Ihosy’s light gets smaller and weaker, as it suffers in the competition across local cities for population.”

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