Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Economics (PhD)

Degree Level





Andrea Civelli

Committee Member

Raja Kali

Second Committee Member

Hyunseok Jung


Civil Conflict, Economic Activities, Economic Growth, Empirical Likelihood, Generalized Method of Moments, Night Lights, Satellite derived signals, Spatial Econometrics, Standard method of Moments


Spatial interaction and the locational structure between observations as well as availability of satellite derived data has meant a richer and more exhaustive exploration of topics relevant in development topics, particularly in areas of subnational economic activity and conflict. This research leverages thus spatial econometric techniques to dynamically decompose impacts from socio-economic determinants on conflict incidence (with setting in Sub-Saharan Africa). Later I also present a statistical framework (based on extension of Henderson’s approach (2012)) to augment official income figures at district / county level with multiple satellite derived signals, with specific context given to developing countries.

In the first chapter, I look at the relationship and interplay between conflict intensity, foreign aid (in the form of geocoded World Bank Aid allocations) and economic activity (proxied by Sum of Lights, SOL, as gathered from satellite night lights sources), at the sub-national (provincial) level in Sub-Saharan Africa over 2000-13, using a Panel Vector Autoregression approach based on a multi-stage Continuous Updated Estimator GMM estimation strategy, and incorporating spatial effects amongst the concerned variables as well as in the model disturbances. I then decompose the derived impulse responses from this system into spatial direct and indirect responses. As per the findings, conflict intensity reacts (largely) positively to negative shocks in economic activity and World Bank Aid, with evidence of persistent spillover effects stemming from these aforementioned shocks.

In the second chapter, following on from the first chapter, I specifically look at the impact of income inequality, derived from the spatial distribution of night lights raster and population raster data, on conflict incidence in Sub-Saharan Africa, using a Spatial Exponential Feedback Model approach (as opposed to the more standard Linear Feedback Model in the literature), based on Empirical Likelihood estimation. I also derive spatial direct and indirect impacts from changes in inequality, with direct responses fully dying away within 5 years while indirect response has an extent of in-built persistence. Thus, this chapter adds to the existing literature on conflict and income inequality by exploring the spatial dimension of the dynamics at play.

Lastly, in the third chapter, a modified statistical method is presented, based on Henderson et al. (2012) where he looked at augmenting official national income growth measures by using satellite data on night lights. In the approach as presented here, a Method of Moments approach is introduced so as use multiple satellite signals, in addition to night lights, to augment income growth data at sub-national level. The two other signals are spread of non-vegetative cover and urban land cover data (derived from European Space Agency Climate Change Initiative Land Cover raster products). Three countries were studied with this approach: India, Indonesia and the U.S.