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Political favouritism can now be seen from space

A new study by an Australian university has used night time light to establish that economic activity gravitates towards the birth places of political leaders.

A view of the Middle East at night
A view of the Middle East at night
Image: NASA/Creative Commons

IT WOULD BE expected that there would be a correlation between the birthplaces of political leaders and regional economic activity. But now a new study has set out to show this for fact, using light intensity at night to prove political favoritism.

It had already been established by previous research that there is a correlation between economic activity and light generated at night.

This new research uses the birth places of leaders from 126 countries around the world to establish clear ties between the birthplace of political leaders and economic activity. The study used satellite data on night time light intensity from 38,427 sub-national regions from 1992 to 2009

North Korea is a clear example of where night time light clearly exemplifies the economic fortune of a particular region. In an image taken from the International Space Station, North Korea is seen to be covered in almost total night time darkness. This is in stark contrast with China and South Korea, both both of whom border North Korea.

north-korea Nighttime shows the darkness of North Korea in comparison with its neighbors China and South Korea. Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Dr Paul Raschky from the Monash Centre for Development Economics and Sustainability said “our results suggest that being the leader’s birthplace increases night-time intensity and regional GDP by around four and one per cent respectively”.

Such favoritism was found to be most common in countries with weak political institutions and a poorly educated population.

READ: NASA captures stunning footage of rare solar flare

READ: ‘It just takes your breath away’: What it’s like to step into space for the first time

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