Nightlights as a Proxy Measure in an Economy

7 Pages Posted: 18 Jun 2020

See all articles by Sergey Avetisyan

Sergey Avetisyan

Central Bank of Armenia; Yerevan Brusov State University

Date Written: May 23, 2020


The night-time economy is increasingly being recognized as a driver of economic growth, but for it to succeed a broad range of professionals need to improve it. Whether you work in planning, health, economics, transport, the arts or property – the night-time economy can no longer be an afterthought. Leading research has suggested that night-time light can be used as a proxy for several variables, including urbanization, density, and economic growth. Scientists have been using satellite images of Earth at night — often referred to as “night lights” — to study human activity and natural events. In the past decade, economists have followed suit, clearing that night lights can help gauge economic growth, map poverty, analyze inequality, and tackle numerous questions otherwise impossible to answer, especially in places where data are lacking. If aliens were ever to approach Earth from its dark side, they would already know some basics about the global economy long before reaching our atmosphere.

Keywords: night-time economy, nightlights, urban assemblage, economic growth

JEL Classification: R00, R11, F43, Q4, Y20

Suggested Citation

Avetisyan, Sergey, Nightlights as a Proxy Measure in an Economy (May 23, 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Sergey Avetisyan (Contact Author)

Central Bank of Armenia ( email )

6 Vazgen Sargsyan
Yerevan, 0010

Yerevan Brusov State University ( email )

Toumanyan 42
Yerevan, 0002

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