NIGHT-TIME LIGHTS AND LEVELS OF DEVELOPMENT: A STUDY USING DMSPOLS NIGHT TIME IMAGES AT THE SUB-NATIONAL LEVEL
Keywords: DMSP-OLS, night-time lights, census, scale effects, socio-economic metrics, development
Abstract. This paper investigates the association between night-time lights and socio-economic metrics at the regional level. This regional level of understanding is critical as it underpins much economic monitoring and policy-making for sustainable development. Stable light data obtained from night time images of 2001, captured by Defense Meteorological Satellite Program – Operational Linescan System (DMSP-OLS) satellite, are used in the study. The data records artificial lights from human habitations from the earth surface and is a surrogate of the level of development of an area. Data on socio economic metrics at the sub-national level for the year 2001 for the state of Maharashtra in India have been sourced from Primary Census Abstract of India, 2001. However, most of the socio economic variables are not available at the village level. This paper describes the process of deriving maps of census metrics not collected by Indian census for small regions (such as villages) using DMSP-OLS images that are otherwise unavailable. Linear regression models with correlation coefficients ranging from 0.75 to 0.90 (p < 0.05) at the district and the taluk level from the nighttime satellite images were used to predict these census metrics for villages. Maps are produced for villages. Errors associated with the Modifiable Areal Unit Problem (MAUP) and ecological fallacies are also discussed. The paper concludes with an overall assessment of the results at these various spatial scales.