Estimating GDP growth in Yangon using nightlights data

We provide estimates of GDP growth in Greater Yangon between 1992 and 2013 by exploiting nightlights data. Subnational estimates were derived by calculating the elasticity of luminosity with respect to GDP for Myanmar as a whole using time series luminosity and GDP data and then converting observed luminosity values for Yangon in GDP by applying the national level elasticity estimates. The results suggest that Yangon’s GDP grew at an average annual rate of 4.45 percent between 1992 and 2013 and by 11.17 percent per annum during the reform period beginning in 2008. This method may be useful for monitoring urban economic growth in other low and middle income countries.