Quotation McCallum, Ian, Kyba, Christopher Conrad Maximillian, Laso Bayas, Juan Carlos, Elena, Moltchanova, Matt, Cooper, Crespo Cuaresma, Jesus, Pachauri, Shonali, See, Linda, Danylo, Olga, Moorthy, Inian, Lesiv, Myroslava, Baugh, Kimberly, Elvidge, Christopher D., Hofer, Martin, Fritz, Steffen. 2022. Estimating global economic well-being with unlit settlements. Nature Communications. 13 (1), 2459




It is well established that nighttime radiance, measured from satellites, correlates with economic prosperity across the globe. In developing countries, areas with low levels of detected radiance generally indicate limited development – with unlit areas typically being disregarded. Here we combine satellite nighttime lights and the world settlement footprint for the year 2015 to show that 19% of the total settlement footprint of the planet had no detectable artificial radiance associated with it. The majority of unlit settlement footprints are found in Africa (39%), rising to 65% if we consider only rural settlement areas, along with numerous countries in the Middle East and Asia. Significant areas of unlit settlements are also located in some developed countries. For 49 countries spread across Africa, Asia and the Americas we are able to predict and map the wealth class obtained from ~2,400,000 geo-located households based upon the percent of unlit settlements, with an overall accuracy of 87%.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Nature Communications
Citation Index SCI
Language English
Title Estimating global economic well-being with unlit settlements
Volume 13
Number 1
Year 2022
Page from 2459
URL https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-30099-9
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-022-30099-9
Open Access Y
Open Access Link https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-022-30099-9


Crespo Cuaresma, Jesus (Details)
Baugh, Kimberly (University of Colorado, United States/USA)
Danylo, Olga (IIASA, Austria)
Elena, Moltchanova (University of Canterbury, New Zealand)
Elvidge, Christopher D. (Colorado School of Mines, United States/USA)
Fritz, Steffen (IIASA, Austria)
Hofer, Martin (IIASA, Austria)
Kyba, Christopher Conrad Maximillian (GFZ, Germany)
Laso Bayas, Juan Carlos (IIASA, Austria)
Lesiv, Myroslava (IIASA, Austria)
Matt, Cooper (Harvard University, United States/USA)
McCallum, Ian (IIASA, Austria)
Moorthy, Inian (IIASA, Austria)
Pachauri, Shonali (IIASA, Austria)
See, Linda (IIASA, Austria)
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