This paper presents a novel framework to estimate the elasticity between nighttime lights and quarterly economic activity. The relationship is identified by accounting for varying degrees of measurement errors in nighttime light data across countries. The estimated elasticity is 1.55 for emerging markets and developing economies, ranging from 1.36 to 1.81 across country groups and robust to different model specifications. The paper uses a light-adjusted measure of quarterly economic activity to show that higher levels of development, statistical capacity, and voice and accountability are associated with more precise national accounts data. The elasticity allows quantification of subnational economic impacts. During the COVID-19 pandemic, regions with higher levels of development and population density experienced larger declines in economic activity.
Ms. Mercedes Garcia-Escribano, Ms. Tewodaj Mogues, Marian Moszoro, and Mauricio Soto
South Asia has experienced significant progress in improving human and physical capital over the past few decades. Within the region, India has become a global economic powerhouse with enormous development potential ahead. To foster human and economic development, India has shown a strong commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Agenda. This paper focuses on the medium-term development challenges that South Asia, and in particular India, faces to ensure substantial progress along the SDGs by 2030. We estimate the additional spending needed in critical areas of human capital (health and education) and physical capital (water and sanitation, electricity, and roads). We document progress on these five sectors for India relative to other South Asian countries and discuss implications for policy and reform.
There has been a global push to decrease the cost of remittances since at least 2009, which has culminated with its inclusion in the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. Despite this effort and the emergence of new business models, remittance costs have been decreasing very slowly, disproving predictions that sharp declines would be just around the corner. In addition, remitting to poorer countries remains very expensive. Oddly, this situation has not been able to elicit academic interest on the drivers of remittance costs. This paper delved deeply into the remittances ecosystem and found a very complex, heterogenous and unequal environment, one in which costs are driven by a myriad of factors and where there are no easy and quick solutions available, which explains the disappointing outcome so far. Nonetheless, it also shows that while policymakers have limited room to act they still have a very important role to play.