Conceptualizing and Measuring Urban Locations: Comparing a Satellite View with the Demographic & Health Surveys

Audrey Dorelien, Princeton University
Deborah L. Balk, City University of New York (CUNY) Institute for Demographic Research (CIDR)
Megan Todd, CUNY Institute for Demographic Research
Mark R. Montgomery, Population Council

There is widespread awareness that the world is becoming increasingly urban, both in terms of urbanization and urban expansion. However, understanding of these trends is limited by the lack of a consistent framework: there is no standard definition of an “urban” area nor agreed upon spatial boundaries of them. By comparing Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) data, which uses each country’s rural/urban classification system, against the Global Rural Urban Mapping Project (GRUMP) data, which primarily uses night-time lights as an urban proxy, we are able to better understand what is meant by “urban” in the two data sources and to learn more about how to conceptualized an urban continuum. This is achieved by analyzing the distribution and characteristics (i.e. household electrification, rural/urban classification, poverty) of DHS clusters falling in and out of GRUMP urban extents.

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Presented in Session 157: Innovations in Data and Measurement in Spatial and Network Analysis