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Economy

How Nighttime Darkness Illuminates the Rural Poor

University of Oxford researchers are mapping unlit areas around the world in an attempt to measure global poverty.
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Hovering above the earth are orbiting cameras, clicking pictures of the planet’s surface. Each image contain layers and layers of information. Economists have recently started mining these images for clues that can help create a quicker, more extensive, up-to-date database of global poverty that can supplement door-to-door surveys.

In a new paper, researchers Samuel Wills, Brock Smith, and Thomas McGregor at Oxford University in London present a fresh twist to this technology-driven approach: they illuminate rural poverty by isolating areas where people live in darkness at night.