The Human Development Index (HDI) based on life expectancy, education and per-capita income, is one of the most used indicators of human development. However, undeniable problems in data collection limit between-countries comparisons reducing the practical applicability of the HDI in official statistics. Elvidge et al. (2012) proposed an alternative index of human development (the so called Night Light Development Index, NLDI) derived from nighttime satellite imagery and population density, with improved comparability over time and space. The NLDI assesses inequality in the spatial distribution of night light among resident inhabitants and has proven to correlate with the HDI at the country scale. However, the NLDI presents some drawbacks, since similar NLDI values may indicate very different levels of human development. A modified NLDI overcoming such a drawback is proposed and applied to assessment of human development at 3 spatial scales (the entire country, 5 geographical divisions and 20 administrative regions) in Italy, a country with relevant territorial disparities in various socioeconomic dimensions. The original and modified NLDI were correlated with 5 independent indicators of economic growth, sustainable development and environmental quality. The spatial distribution of the original and modified NLDI is not coherent with the level of human development in Italy being indeed associated with various indexes of environmental quality. Further investigation is required to identify in which socioeconomic context (and at which spatial scale) the NDLI approach correctly estimates the level of human development in affluent countries.
An empirical assessment of human development through remote sensing: Evidences from Italy / Salvati, Luca; Guandalini, Alessio; Carlucci, Margherita; Chelli, Francesco Maria. - In: ECOLOGICAL INDICATORS. - ISSN 1470-160X. - STAMPA. - 78:(2017), pp. 167-172. [10.1016/j.ecolind.2017.03.014]