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On Planning for Development:
Urbanization and DevelopmentUrbanization     Population     Agglomeration economies   The right to the city
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HABITAT III Policy Papers Now Online- 9th March 2016

The Policy Papers are considered official inputs to the Habitat III Process and,

Click here for direct access to and related information on the 10 Policy Papers

List and Composition of Policy Units

1. The Right to the City and Cities for All Co-Lead Organization Draft Policy Paper Framework Policy Paper
2. Socio-Cultural Urban Framework Co-Lead Organization Draft Policy Paper Framework Policy Paper
3. National Urban Policies Co-Lead Organization Draft Policy Paper Framework Policy Paper
4. Urban Governance, Capacity and Institutional Development Co-Lead Organization Draft Policy Paper Framework Policy Paper
5. Municipal Finance and Local Fiscal Systems Co-Lead Organization Draft Policy Paper Framework Policy Paper
6. Urban Spatial Strategies: Land Market and Segregation Co-Lead Organization Draft Policy Paper Framework Policy Paper
7. Urban Economic Development Strategies Co-Lead Organization Draft Policy Paper Framework Policy Paper
8. Urban Ecology and Resilience Co-Lead Organization Draft Policy Paper Framework Policy Paper
9. Urban Services and Technology Co-Lead Organization Draft Policy Paper Framework Policy Paper
10. Housing Policies Co-Lead Organization Draft Policy Paper Framework Policy Paper

Rémi JEDWAB - Department of Economics, George Washington University
This Version: February 28th, 2013

Urbanization with and without Structural Transformation;
Evidence from Consumption Cities in Africa
"Africa has recently experienced dramatic urbanization. Standard theories of structural transformation cannot explain this result, as it was not driven by a green revolution or an industrial revolution, but by natural resource exports. I explain how the Engel curve implies that resource windfalls are disproportionately spent on urban goods and services, which gives rise to "consumption cities". I illustrate this theory using both cross-country evidence and within-country evidence from Ivory Coast and Ghana using new data spanning one century and two identification strategies (an instrumental variables strategy and a fixed effects approach). I find a strong causal effect of the production of cocoa, a ruralbased natural resource, on the growth of cities. I discuss the implications of urbanization without structural transformation for long-run growth."

By Jacob Songsore
Department of Geography and Resource Development - University of Ghana
Legon-Accra, Ghana
Study Prepared for the IIED as part of its Eight Country Case Studies on Urbanization

The urban transition in Ghana: urbanization, national development and poverty reduction UE4

This demonstrative country study on urbanization is part of a broader study of five major developing regions. The thrust of this study is to provide an understanding of the scale and nature of urban population change and the interconnections between urban development and demographic, economic, social and political processes and contributors to this change in Ghana. The study is aimed at helping clarify rural-urban linkages, evaluate policies, remove obstacles and biases, and clear the way for more proactive approaches towards upcoming urban growth. The case studies will serve as blueprints for the subsequent promotion of analogous studies in other developing countries, in a second stage that would be carried out under the auspices of UNFPA’s country offices.


David Harvey - 2008

The Right to the City

We live in an era when ideals of human rights have moved center stage both politically and ethically. A lot of political energy is put into promoting, protecting and articulating their significance in the construction of a better world. For the most part the concepts circulating are individualistic and property based and, as such, do nothing to fundamentally challenge hegemonic liberal and neoliberal market logics and neoliberal modes of legality and state action.
We live in a world, after all, where the rights of private property and the profit rate trump all other notions of rights one can think of. But there are occasions when the ideal of human rights takes a collective turn, as when the rights of labor, women, gays and minorities come to the fore (a legacy of the long-standing labor movement and the 1960s Civil Rights movement in the United States that was collective and had a global resonance). These struggles for collective rights have, on occasion, yielded some results (such that a woman and a black become real contestants for the US Presidency).
I here want to explore another kind of collective right, that of the right to the city. This is important because there is a revival of interest in Henri Lefebvre’s ideas on the topic as these were articulated in relation to the movement of ’68 in France, at the same time as there are various social movements around the world that are now demanding the right to the city as their goal. So what might the right to the city mean?

From Interface: a journal for and about social movements. Response to Harvey Volume 2 (1): 315 – 333 (May 2010) Souza, Which right to which city?

Which right to which city?
In defence of political-strategic clarity

by Marcelo Lopes de Souza
Coined at the end of the 1960s by French philosopher Henri Lefebvre, the expression “(the) right to the city” has become fashionable these days. The price of this has often been the trivialisation and corruption of Lefebvre’s concept: In many cases it seems to mean just the right to a more “human” life in the context of the capitalist city and on the basis of a (“reformed”) representative “democracy”.
In contrast to this, David Harvey, an eminent Marxist urban researcher who has paid attention to Lefebvre’s ideas since the beginning of the 1970s, retains a non-reformist understanding of the “right to the city”.
What is more, he reaches beyond the usual academic level of critical analysis in order to make political-strategic evaluations and recommendations.
However, from a libertarian point of view, his words sound very much like an attempt to see (partially) new phenomena (such as many contemporary, autonomy-oriented and radical-democratically based social movements as well as the conditions under which they act) through old lenses: namely through the lenses of statism, centralism, and hierarchy. The result of this is often a misrepresentation of today’s social actors, their agency, potentialities, and strategies.
The aim of this paper is to show the limits of such an interpretation, as well as to discuss what a “right to the city” (and the strategy to achieve this goal) could be from a libertarian point of view - not as a purely speculative enterprise, but under inspiration of the experiences of different, concrete social movements from Latin America to Europe to Africa.

The Urban Theory Lab

"Based at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, the Urban Theory Lab (UTL) is a research team concerned to rethink the basic categories, methods and cartographies of urban theory in order to better understand and influence emergent forms of planetary urbanization.
In the early 1970s, Henri Lefebvre put forward the radical hypothesis of the complete urbanization of society.  This required, in his view, a radical shift from the analysis of urban form to the investigation of urbanization processes.  The Urban Theory Lab-GSD builds upon Lefebvre’s approach to investigate emergent sociospatial formations under early twenty-first century capitalism. 

Our research starts from the proposition that inherited frameworks of urban knowledge must be radically reinvented to illuminate emergent forms of twenty-first century urbanization. In contrast to the urban/suburban/rural distinction that has long underpinned the major traditions of urban research, data collection and cartographic practice, we argue that the urban today represents a worldwide condition in which all political-economic and socio-environmental relations are enmeshed, regardless of terrestrial location or morphological configuration. 
This emergent condition of planetary urbanization means, paradoxically, that even spaces that lie well beyond the traditional centers of agglomeration—from worldwide shipping lanes, transportation networks and communications infrastructures to resource extraction sites, alpine and coastal tourist enclaves, offshore financial centers, agro-industrial catchment zones, and erstwhile “natural” spaces such as the world’s oceans, deserts, jungles, mountain ranges, tundra and atmosphere—are becoming integral to a worldwide operational landscape for (capitalist) urbanization processes..."

Twitter:  UrbanTheoryLab
Facebook: urbantheorylab

Introducing The Urban Theory Lab
Neil Brenner - August 2013
Professor of Urban Theory and Director, Urban Theory Lab Harvard Graduate School of Design

"Contemporary urban research stands at a crossroads. As scholars struggle to decipher current forms of urbanization, they are forced to confront the limitations of inherited approaches to urban questions, to face the difficult challenge of inventing new theories, concepts and methods that are better equipped to illuminate emergent spatial conditions, their contradictions and their implications at diverse sites and scales around the world. The result of these efforts is an intellectual field in disarray."...

Yanguang Chen - 2005
Department of Geography, Peking University, Beijing 100871, PRC. Email:

Spatial Changes of Chinese Cities Under the Condition of Exo-Urbanization

Only a preliminary framework is sketched in this report. The first part is theoretical study, trying to model urban-rural interlaced area (desakota) in China using multifractals dimension spectra. The second part is empirical analysis, and the object is to reveal the dynamic process of development and evolution of urban-rural interlaced area under the condition of exo-urbanization. The first part has been finished based on digital simulation, but the second part, the main body of this project, is still in progress

Backgroung paper for World Bank (2009),"World Development Report 2009"

Kilroy, Austin - 2007
Intra-urban spatial inequalities: cities as ‘urban regions.

Chapters 1, 4 and 7 explore the idea of cities as sites of economic concentration and density. But a city is not a homogenous unit. This paper explores spatial inequalities within cities: how they are generated, what characteristics they have, and—similarly to inter-country, inter-territory and urban-rural inequalities—how these spatial inequalities become persistent and self-perpetuating, embodying serious economic and social problems. This conceptual frame views cities as agglomerations of ‘urban regions’—which exhibit significant spatial intra-urban inequalities, and where trends towards equality are constrained predominantly by labour immobility and land-use policies.

From Economic and Political Weekly
April 1, 2006
Vol. XLI, no. 13 (pp.1241-6)

Poverty and Capitalism
Barbara Harriss-White - 2006
University Professor of Development Studies; Director of the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies programme - Faculty of Oriental Studies - University of Oxford

The 21st century has witnessed an impoverishment of the concept of development.

From its start as a project of capitalist industrialisation and agrarian change, the political direction and social transformation that accompany this process – and the deliberate attempt to order and mitigate its necessary ill effects on human beings and their habitats – development has been reduced to an assault on poverty, apparently driven by international aid, trade and financial agencies and festooned in targets. At the same time, the concept of poverty has been enriched by being recognised as having many dimensions – monetary/income poverty, human development poverty, social exclusion and poor peoples’ own understandings developed through participatory interactions [Laderchi et al 2003].

While it may be possible to mitigate poverty through social transfers, it is not possible to eradicate the processes that create poverty under capitalism.

Eight such processes are discussed: the creation of the preconditions; petty commodity production and trade; technological change and unemployment; (petty) commodification; harmful commodities and waste; pauperising crises; climate-change-related pauperisation; and the unrequired, incapacitated and/or dependent human body under capitalism. Ways to regulate these processes and to protect against their impact are discussed.

From: Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Volume 4. Edited by J.V Henderson and J.FE Thisse - © 2004 Elsevier B. V All rights reserved

Theories of Systems of Cities
H. M. Abdel-Rahman - University of New Orleans, USA, and
A. Anas - State University of New York at Buffalo, USA

Economic theories of systems of cities explain why production and consumption activities are concentrated in a number of urban areas of different sizes and industrial composition rather than uniformly distributed in space.
These theories have been successively influenced by four paradigms:
(i) conventional urban economics emphasizing the tension between economies due to the spatial concentration of activity and diseconomies arising from that concentration;
(ii) the theory of industrial organization as it relates to inter-industry linkages and to product differentiation;
(iii) the New Economic Geography which ignores land markets but emphasizes trade among cities, fixed agricultural hinterlands and the endogenous emergence of geography;
(iv) the theory of endogenous economic growth.
Among the issues examined are specialization versus diversification of cities in systems of cities, how city systems contribute to increasing returns in national and the global economies, the factors that determine skill distribution and income disparity between cities, the impacts of income disparity on welfare, whether population growth should cause economic activity to become more or less concentrated in urban areas, and how resources should be allocated efficiently in a system of cities. Related to the last issue, we consider models where cities are organized by local planners or developers as well as cities that self-organize by atomistic actions. A conclusion of the theoretical study of city systems is that markets fail in efficiently allocating resources across cities when certain intercity interactions are present and that a role for central planning may be necessary.


State of the Asian Cities 2010/2011

The report throws new light on current issues and challenges which national and local governments, the business sector and organised civil society are facing. On top of putting forward a number of recommendations, this report testifies to the wealth of good, innovative practice that countries of all sizes and development stages have accumulated across the region. It shows us that sustainable human settlements are within reach, and that cooperation between public authorities, the private and the voluntary sectors is the key to success. This report highlights a number of critical issues – demographic and economic trends, poverty and inequality, the environment, climate change and urban governance and management.


State of the African Cities 2010
Governance, Inequality and Urban Land Markets

Events in the early years of the 21st century have all but done away with the widespread belief in linear development, the start of worldwide accumulative growth, and broad access to a global consumer society. The free-market ideology has facilitated a number of serious world-wide mistakes in governance, environmental management, banking practices and food and energy pricing which in recent years have rocked the world to its foundations. The message of these systemic shocks is that we can no longer afford to continue with ‘business as usual’. There is need for a significantly higher level of global political determination to make deep changes, if humankind is to survive on this planet.
The world’s wealthiest governments have shown that rapid adaptation and reform are possible. Despite the predominance of a free-market ideology opposed to government interference, when faced with a deep financial crisis that imperilled the world’s global banking system the governments of the more advanced economies were capable of generating, almost overnight, the political will to put on the table the billions of dollars required to bail out the world’s largest financial institutions. These funds did not seem available when they were requested for the global eradication of poverty.


State of China's Cities 2010/2011
Better city, Better life

This title, State of China’s Cities, is a joint effort between UN-HABITAT, China Science Center of International Eurasian Academy of Sciences and China Association of Mayors. This report, covers five strategic steps to nurture and grow smarter cities. It aims to make easy access of international readers to the information about policies and practices that have engendered smart urbanization of China in the past 60 years. It also provides the experiences, lessons and challenges faced by China in sustaining its urban development in the context of rapid industrialization and urbanization within a globalizing world.

WIDER working papers 2011

Latin American Urban Development into the 21st Century: Towards a Renewed Perspective on the City
Dennis Rodgers, Jo Beall, and Ravi Kanbur - January 2011

This paper argues for a more systemic engagement with Latin American cities, contending it is necessary to reconsider their unity in order to nuance the ‘fractured cities’ perspective that has widely come to epitomise the contemporary urban moment in the region. It begins by offering an overview of regional urban development trends, before exploring how the underlying imaginary of the city has critically shifted over the past half century. Focusing in particular on the way that slums and shantytowns have been conceived, it traces how the predominant conception of the Latin American city moved from a notion of unity to a perception of fragmentation, highlighting how this had critically negative ramifications for urban development agendas, and concludes with a call for a renewed vision of Latin American urban life.

A New Way of Monitoring the Quality of Urban Life
Eduardo Lora and Andrew Powell - March 2011

A growing number of cities around the world have established systems of monitoring the quality of urban life. Many of those systems combine objective and subjective information and attempt to cover a wide variety of topics. This paper introduces a simple method that takes advantage of both types of information and provides criteria to identify and rank the issues of potential importance for urban dwellers. The method combines the so-called ‘hedonic price’ and ‘life satisfaction’ approaches to value public goods. Pilot case results for six Latin American cities are summarized and policy applications are discussed.

Separate but Equal Democratization?
Participation, Politics, and Urban Segregation in Latin America

Dennis Rodgers - March 2011

Many commentators have noted the existence of a historical correlation between cities and democratization. This image of the city as an inherently civic space is linked to the notion that the spatial concentration intrinsic to urban contexts promotes a democracy of proximity. Seen from this perspective, it is perhaps not surprising that the most urbanized region of the global south, Latin America, is also a heartland of vibrant and much applauded democratic innovation. Of particular note are the myriad local level ‘radical democracy’ initiatives that have proliferated throughout the region’s cities during the past two decades. At the same time, however, it is a significant paradox that Latin American urban centres are also amongst the most segregated in the world, something that is widely considered to have a significantly fragmenting effect on public space, and is therefore undermining of democracy.

U.K. House of Commons
International Development Committee
Urbanisation and Poverty
Volume I - 2009

Some of DFID’s work to address urban poverty is impressive and is making a noticeable contribution towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal 7 target on slum upgrading. However, the Department needs to sharpen and refine its approaches to urban poverty. The last five years have seen rapid urbanisation, almost all of it within developing countries, yet DFID—along with other donors—has downgraded its support to urban development over this period. This process should be reversed.

The Department overwhelmingly focuses its efforts to address urban poverty in Asian, rather than African, countries. This balance needs to be redressed. Africa is the world’s fastest urbanising region and it has the highest proportion of slum dwellers. Without a new and comprehensive approach to urban development in Africa, a number of cities could face a humanitarian crisis in as little as five years’ time, given the huge expansion of their urban populations. Addressing urban poverty offers the opportunity to tackle wider development issues such as: unemployment and crime; social exclusion; population growth; and climate change and the environment.

Urbanization and the Changing System of Cities in Socialist China: A Historical and Geographic Assessment
George C. S. Lin - 2000

Globalization and market reforms have significantly facilitated urbanization of the population of the People’s Republic of China. This study assesses the structural and spatial redistribution of urban population and Chinese cities since the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949. Prior to the 1978 economic reforms, the system of cities created by the Maoist regime was dominated by large and extra-large cities because of the imperatives of optimal industrialization. For national defense considerations, most of the new cities were created in the central and western interior rather than the eastern coast. Market reforms and relaxation of state control over local development since the late 1970s have allowed a large number of small cities to flourish on the basis of bottom-up rural transformative development. The intrusion of global market forces has helped re-consolidate the dominance of the east coast in China’s urban development. Although small cities and towns have absorbed large number of rural migrants, large and extra-large cities have remained the most efficient and productive economic centers for capital investment and production. China’s urban development over the past five decades has been a direct outcome of state articulation and reconfiguration against different political and economic contexts. A superimposed dual-track system of urban settlements integrating the Maoist legacy of large city dominance at the top with the rapidly expanding component of small cities and towns at the bottom is quickly taking shape to characterize China’s urban development and urbanization.

From UNU-WIDER working papers series 2010
Dennis Rodgers
Urban Violence Is not (Necessarily) a Way of Life: Towards a Political Economy of Conflict in Cities

As the world moves towards its so-called urban ‘tipping point’, urbanization in the global South has increasingly come to be portrayed as the portent of a dystopian future characterized by ever-mounting levels of anarchy and brutality. The association between cities, violence, and disorder is not new, however. In a classic article on ‘Urbanism as a way of life’, Louis Wirth (1938: 23) famously links cities to ‘personal disorganization, mental breakdown, suicide, delinquency, crime, corruption, and disorder’. He does so on the grounds that the urban context constituted a space that naturally generated particular forms of social organization and collective action as a result of three key attributes: population size, density, and heterogeneity. Large numbers lead to a segmentation of human relations, the pre-eminence of secondary over primary social contact, and a utilitarianization of interpersonal relationships. Density produces increased competition, accelerates specialization, and engenders glaring contrasts that accentuate social friction. Heterogeneity induces more ramified and differentiated forms of social stratification, heightened individual mobility, and increased social fluidity.
While large numbers, density, and heterogeneity can plausibly be considered universal features of cities, it is much less obvious that they necessarily lead to urban violence. This is a standpoint that is further reinforced by the fact that not all cities around the world – whether rapidly urbanizing or not – are violent, and taking off from Wirth’s characterization of the city, this paper therefore seeks to understand how and why under certain circumstances compact settlements of large numbers of heterogeneous individuals give rise to violence, while in others they don’t, focusing in particular on wider structural factors as seen through the specific lens of urban gang violence.

From UNU-WIDER working papers series 2010
Somik V. Lall, Hyoung Gun Wang, and Uwe Deichmann
Infrastructure and City Competitiveness in India

Do local improvements in infrastructure provision improve city competitiveness? What public finance mechanisms stimulate local infrastructure supply? And how do local efforts compare with national decisions of placing inter-regional trunk infrastructure? In this paper, we examine how the combination of local and national infrastructure supply improve city competitiveness, measured as the city’s share of national private investment. For the empirical analysis, we collect city-level data for India, and link private investment decisions to infrastructure provision. We find that a city’s proximity to international ports and highways connecting large domestic markets has the largest effect on its attractiveness for private investment. In comparison, the supply of local infrastructure services – such as municipal roads, street lighting, water supply, and drainage – enhance competitiveness, but their impacts are much smaller. Thus, while local efforts are important for competitiveness, they are less likely to be successful in cities distant from the country’s main trunk infrastructure. In terms of financing local infrastructure, we find that a city’s ability to raise its own source revenues by means of local taxes and user fees increases infrastructure supply, whereas as inter governmental transfers do not have statistically significant effects.

From UNU-WIDER working papers series 2010
Wim Naudé
Suburbanization and Residential Desegregation in South Africa's Cities

Population density gradients for South Africa’s cities are quite small in absolute value, indicating a relatively flat population distribution across the cities. In contrast employment is less flatly distributed than the population. The relationship between employment densities and distance across South African cities has remained constant between 1996 and 2001 whilst there has been on average a slight increase in population density further away from the city centres. As per capita income of the population rises, density in the central city areas decreases. Employment growth has no significant impact on suburbanization indicating that population settlement does not necessarily follow jobs. Finally, it is found that there have been decreases in segregation in South Africa’s metropolitan cities since 1996 especially in the former white group areas, which could suggest that the formerly spatially excluded black population is slowly moving into former white areas, which are also closer to where economic activities are located.

From UNU-WIDER working papers series 2010
Ignacio A. Navarro and Geoffrey K. Turnbull
The Legacy Effect of Squatter Settlements on Urban Redevelopment

The paper presents a theoretical model that seeks to answer the question of why former squatter settlements tend to upgrade/redevelop at a slower pace than otherwise similar settlements originating in the formal sector. We argue that squatter settlers’ initial strategy to access urban land creates a ‘legacy effect’ that curtails settlement upgrading possibilities even after the settlements are granted property titles. We test our model using the case of Cochabamba, Bolivia and obtain results consistent with our theoretical model prediction. Our results suggest that the commonly used ‘benign neglect while keeping the threat of eviction’ policy has profound impacts on how land is developed in the informal sector and this poses costly consequences for local governments after legalization.

From UNU-WIDER working papers series 2010
Henry G. Overman and Anthony J. Venables
Evolving City Systems

The urban population of the developing world is projected to increase by some two billion in the next 30 years. Urbanization rates are strongly correlated with per capita income, productivity tends to be high in cities, and urban job creation is an important driver of economic growth. But urbanization is also one aspect of the widening spatial disparities that often accompany economic development, and many countries have urban structures dominated by their prime city. While cities are highly productive, they create heavy demands for investments in infrastructure and accommodation, in the absence of which slums and informal settlements develop. Urbanization gives rise to numerous policy challenges, both to make cities work better and to ensure that the overall city structure (the number and size distribution of cities) is as efficient as possible. There is no presumption that an unregulated free market pattern of urban development is socially efficient (even when conditional upon appropriate levels of public investment).
Urban activity creates many externalities, both positive and negative, so economic theory tells us that an unregulated outcome will not achieve efficiency. We observe the grim conditions of developing mega-cities, and we know that, in some developing countries, the primate city takes a far larger share of population than was the case in much of the developed world at similar stages of development (Bairoch 1988). The performance of the urban sector also bears on overall economic growth. Much job creation – in modern sector activities and in the informal sector – takes place in cities. What determines the attractiveness of a location as a host for investment, and how can city environments be developed to maximize job creation? Do ‘bad’ city structures impede overall growth?

From UNU-WIDER working papers series 2010
Janice E. Perlman
Parsing the Urban Poverty Puzzle: A Multi-generational Panel Study in Rio de Janeiro’s Favelas, 1968–2008

This paper describes the methodology of a longitudinal multi-generational study in the favelas (shantytowns) of Rio de Janeiro from 1968 to 2008. Major political transformations took place in Brazil during this interval: from dictatorship to ‘opening’ to democracy; major economic transformations from ‘miracle’ boom to hyperinflation and crisis, and to relative stability; and major policy changes from the removal of favelas to their upgrading and integration. However, despite the cumulative effects of these contextual changes, poverty programmes and community efforts, the favela population has continued to grow faster than the rest of the city and the number and size of the favelas has consistently increased over these decades.

From UNU-WIDER working papers series 2010
David Satterthwaite
Urban Myths and the Mis-use of Data that Underpin them

This paper describes the gaps and limitations in the data available on urban populations for many low- and middle-income nations and how this limits the accuracy of international comparisons – for instance of levels of urbanization and of the size of city populations. It also discusses how the lack of attention to data limitations has led to many myths and misconceptions in regard to growth rates for city populations and for nations’ levels of urbanization. It ends with some comments on how data limitations distort urban policies.

From UNU-WIDER working papers series 2010
Hirotsugu Uchida and Andrew Nelson
Agglomeration Index: Towards a New Measure of Urban Concentration

A common challenge in analyzing urbanization is the data. The United Nations (UN) compiles information on urbanization (urban population and its share of total national population) that is reported by various countries but there is no standardized definition of ‘urban’, resulting in inconsistencies. This situation is particularly troublesome if one wishes to conduct a cross-country analysis or determine the aggregate urbanization status of the regions (such as Asia or Latin America) and the world. This paper proposes an alternative to the UN measure of urban concentration that we call an agglomeration index. It is based on three factors:
• Population density
• The population of a ‘large’ city centre
• Travel time to that large city centre.
The main objective in constructing this new measure is to provide a globally consistent definition of settlement concentration in order to conduct cross-country comparative and aggregated analyses. As an accessible measure of economic density, the agglomeration index lends itself to the study of concepts such as agglomeration rents in urban areas, the ‘thickness’ of a market, and the travel distance to such a market with many workers and consumers. With anticipated advances in remote sensing technology and geo-coded data analysis tools, the agglomeration index can be further refined to address some of the caveats currently associated with it.

From UNU-WIDER working papers series 2010
Ben C. Arimah
The Face of Urban Poverty: Explaining the Prevalence of Slums in Developing Countries

One of the most visible and enduring manifestations of urban poverty in developing countries is the formation and proliferation of slums. While attention has focused on the rapid pace of urbanization as the sole or major factor explaining the proliferation of slums and squatter settlements in developing countries, there are other factors whose impacts are not known with much degree of certainty. It is also not clear how the effects of these factors vary across regions of the developing world. This paper accounts for differences in the prevalence of slums among developing countries using data drawn from the recent global assessment of slums undertaken by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme.
The empirical analysis identifies substantial inter-country variations in the incidence of slums both within and across the regions of Africa, Asia as well as, Latin America and the Caribbean. Further analysis indicates that higher GDP per capita, greater financial depth and increased investment in infrastructure will reduce the incidence of slums. Conversely, the external debt burden, inequality in the distribution of income, rapid urban growth and the exclusionary nature of the regulatory framework governing the provision planned residential land contribute positively to the prevalence of slums and squatter settlements.

World Development Report 2009
Spatial Disparities and Development Policy
Reshaping  Economic Geography
Published November 6, 2008

Read also Reshaping Economic Geography in East Asia
a companion volume to the World Development Report 2009, which brings together noted scholars to address the spatial distribution of economic growth in Asia.

From The World Bank - 18 Sept. 2006
An East Asian Renaissance: Ideas for Economic Growth
Advance Conference Edition
East Asia – a region that has transformed itself since the financial crisis of the 90s by creating more competitive and innovative economies – must now turn to the urgent domestic challenges of inequality, social cohesion, corruption and environmental degradation arising from its success.

From the Asian Development Bank - 2006
Urbanization and Sustainability in Asia - 2006
Case Studies of Good Practice
Edited by Brian Roberts and Trevor Kanaley

S. Sassen (2001)
The global city: strategic site/new frontier
"THE master images in the currently dominant account about economic globalization emphasize hypermobility, global communications, the neutralization of place and distance. There is a tendency in that account to take the existence of a global economic system as a given, a function of the power of transnational corporations and global communications. But the capabilities for global operation, coordination and control contained in the new information technologies and in the power of transnational corporations need to be produced."..."The emphasis shifts to the practices that constitute what we call economic globalization and global control: the work of producing and reproducing the organization and management of a global production system and a global marketplace for finance, both under conditions of economic concentration."
Fu-Chen Lo and Yue-man (1996)
Emerging world cities in Pacific Asia
During the 1980s and 1990s, the global economy has experienced a series of economic structural adjustments triggered by the relative decline of the once-powerful industrial centres of the United States, the European Union, and more recently Japan and by the rise of rapid industrialization in several developing countries. This has changed the configuration of mega-cities and defined new conditions for their transformation towards the twenty-first century. In a global economy that couples spatial dispersal with economic integration, new roles are being created for world or global cities, as command posts of the world economy, as financial centres, as production sites, and as consumer markets. World cities are not mere outcomes of a global economic machine, but rather the loci of key structures of the world economy itself (Sassen, Saskia (1991), The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.).
UN-Habitat and the Kenya Slum Upgrading Programme
Strategic Document 2008

Kenya’s slums are growing at an unprecedented rate as more and more people move to Kenya’s cities and towns in search of employment and other opportunities urban areas offer. The government and local authorities are faced with the serious challenge of guiding the physical growth of urban areas and providing adequate services for the growing urban population. Kenya’s urban population is at present 40 percent of the total population. More than 70 percent of these urbanites live in slums, with limited access to water and sanitation, housing, and secure tenure. They have poor environmental conditions and experience high crime rates. If the gap continues to grow between the supply and demand of urban services such as housing, the negative consequences of urbanisation can become irreversible.

Journal of Human Development, Vol. 8, No. 1, March 2007
Amartya Sen, the World Bank, and the Redress of Urban Poverty: A Brazilian Case Study
Alexandre Apsan Frediani
While there is some suggestion of a re-orientation in the World Bank’s income-cantered conceptualization of poverty to one based on Amartya Sen’s concept of ‘development as freedom’, it is hard to uncover definitive evidence of such a re-orientation from a study of the Bank’s urban programmes in Brazil. This paper attempts an application of Sen’s capability approach to the problem of improving the urban quality of life, and contrasts it with the World Bank’s approach, with specific reference to a typical squatter upgrading project in Novos Alagados in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.

Martin Ravallion, Shaohua Chen and Prem Sangraula - 2007
The Urbanization of Global Poverty
We provide new evidence on the extent to which absolute poverty has urbanized in the developing world, and what role population urbanization has played in overall poverty reduction. We find that one-quarter of the world’s consumption poor live in urban areas and that the proportion has been rising over time. Urbanization helped reduce absolute poverty in the aggregate but did little for urban poverty reduction; over 1993-2002, the count of the “$1 a day” poor fell by 150 million in rural areas but rose by 50 million in urban areas. The poor have been urbanizing even more rapidly than the population as a whole. Looking forward, the recent pace of urbanization and current forecasts for urban population growth imply that a majority of the poor will still live in rural areas for many decades to come. There are marked regional differences: Latin America has the most urbanized poverty problem, East Asia has the least; there has been a “ruralization” of poverty in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; in marked contrast to other regions, Africa’s urbanization process has not been associated with falling overall poverty.
From Journal of World Systems Research, Vol 12 N. 1 2006
James C. Fraser
Globalization, Development and Ordinary Cities: A Review Essay Book Reviews
What are the underlying spatial assumptions about the world that renders some cities exemplars of modernity and innovation, while others are cast as being behind, and worse yet, forgotten places? This  is a key question that has emerged in geography and sociology, and is addressed in Jennifer Robinson’s book Ordinary Cities: Between Modernity and Development. The purpose of this essay is two-fold in that it provides a review of Robinson’s book and it also uses her text as a vehicle to interrogate the geo-politics of urban theory development. In particular, scholars have voiced concern over the manner in which “world cities” and then “global cities” have the power/knowledge eff ect of reifying the idea that there is one “world system” that can be measured objectively.

RP2004/08 W.A. Naudé and W.F. Krugell:
An Inquiry into Cities and Their Role in Subnational Economic Growth in South Africa
(PDF 220KB)

A. Portes
Urbanization in Comparative Perspective

The Carrefour supermarket in the Tijuca quarter of Rio de Janeiro is located right at the foot of the Favela Borel, one of the most violent slums of the city. Recently, the military police invaded Borel, killing four young men who, in the event, proved to be innocent. In visiting Carrefour, one would expect a significant display of security given the threat posed by its violent neighbor, both to property and life. Nothing of the sort. The supermarket is as tranquil as one could find in any wealthy suburb. Shoppers arrive and leave their cars with full confidence that they would still be there when they return.
For this tranquility, Carrefour has the drug traffickers in the hill to thank. The powerful and well-organized band that controls Borel has decreed that shoplifting or robbery in its vicinity and, especially in its well-stocked neighbor, is strictly forbidden...

Bryan Roberts, University of Texas at Austin, USA - 2003
"Comparative Systems: An Overview"
This overview focuses on urbanization and the development of urban systems in less developed countries from the 1950s to the present. In 1950, some 18 percent of the population of less developed regions was urban, rising to 40 percent by 2000 (UNDP, 2002: Table A.2). These percentages conceal considerable variation between countries and regions. Forty-two percent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean was urban in 1950, compared with 15 percent in Africa, 17 percent in South-Central Asia and 15 percent in South-Eastern Asia (ibid).1 The differences in the extent of urbanization are associated with differences in the timing of urbanization and in the nature of urban systems. The highest rates of urbanization between 1950 and 2000 in Latin America occurred in the 1950s, when many of the urban systems of Latin American countries had high primacy – the concentration of a country’s urban population in its largest city. Countries in other regions experienced their fastest rates of urbanization later, in the 1960s and 1970s, and in comparison to Latin America primacy was a less marked feature of many of their urban systems in 1950.

Graeme Hugo, GISCA, Australia
"Urbanization in Asia: An Overview"
Of the many profound changes which have swept Asia during the last half-century none have been so profound and far reaching as the doubling of the proportion of population living in urban areas. In 1950, 231 million Asians lived in urban areas and by 2000 they had increased five times to 1.22 billion while their proportions of the total population increased from 17.1 to 34.9 percent (United Nations 2001a). Moreover, in the next two decades Asia will pass the threshold of having more than half their population living in urban areas (United Nations 2002).
While there are huge variations between countries in the level of urbanisation and later of urban growth this is indicative of substantial economic, social and demographic change in the region. The paper firstly outlines the major patterns and trends in urbanisation and urban growth in the region. It then examines, in so far as is possible with the information available, the role of population movement in Asian urbanisation. It then discusses a number of key issues relating to migration and urbanisation in the region and finally a number of policy issues relating to urbanisation in Asia are examined.

The World Bank Group:
Urban Development

The Urban Poor in Latin America
(2005) Along with the urbanization of Latin America's population has come an urbanization of its poor - today about half of the region's poor live in cities.
System of cities. Global Urban and Local Government Strategy -July 2010

Read the report Systems of Cities: Harnessing urbanization for growth and poverty alleviation. The New World Bank Urban and Local Government Strategy

The World Bank is putting forth its new Urban and Local Government Strategy at a critical time. For the first time in history more than half the world’s people live in cities. Over 90 percent of urban growth is occurring in the developing world, adding an estimated 70 million new residents to urban areas each year. During the next two decades, the urban population of the world’s two poorest regions—South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa—is expected to double.
The new strategy also inaugurates the Decade of the City, a decade that will be remembered for recognizing cities at the core of growth and human development. Never before has there been so much interest in cities: city associations, citywide programs, city university and private sector partnerships. In developing countries, cities often provide the first opportunity for elected officials to meet their constituents, governments to collect taxes, taxpayers to demand efficient services, investors to start new businesses. This is where collective voices are heard and accountability matters.
Successful cities change their ways, improve their finances, attract private investors, and take care of the poor. The new Urban and Local Government Strategy will help governments at all levels make cities more equitable, efficient, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. The strategy draws on two principles. First, that density, agglomeration, and proximity are fundamental to human advancement, economic productivity, and social equity. Second, that cities need to be well managed and sustainable.
The strategy unfolds along five business lines:
1.- city management, governance, and finance
2.- urban poverty
3.- cities and economic growth
4.- city planning, land, and housing
5.- urban environment, climate change, and disaster management
These set out the objectives and benchmarks for the Bank to monitor its financing and policy advice. Most of our clients still face an immense lack of resources, and it will take some time until all the poor will be fully integrated in the city tissue. For this reason, the new strategy calls for a broader-based, scaled-up approach to urban poverty, focusing more than ever on policies and actions that can create livable cities.
The World Bank’s new Urban & Local Government Strategy aims to be a key element in helping civic leaders and national authorities think through, and implement, policies and programs for the benefit of their people, their cities, and their countries. We hope you will take a moment to look through this strategy and learn how we hope to make a difference.

Cities in Transition
World Bank Urban and Local Government Strategy - 2000
The need for a new urban strategy for the Bank - Pursuing a vision of sustainable cities - A renewed Bank strategy for urban and local government assistance - Requirements for implementing the new strategy - Urban lines of business (illustrative examples) - Urban indicators
Executive Summary:
English(PDF 700k)
French(PDF 1.3k) Spanish(PDF 1.3k)

Full Report (PDF files)

(1999) Winds of change affecting urban areas and local governments underscore the importance of urban development to national goals
G. Tolly & V. S. Thomas (1987)
Economics of Urbanization and Urban Policies in Developing countries
"Urban problems in developing countries have become more acute in recent decades as people have flocked to cities, and the largest cities have been affected the most. In coming years, as population growth continues throughout the developing world, urban problems promise to become increasingly severe. The volume seeks to promote better understanding and evaluation of policies designed to cope with these issues. It draws together studies of the causes of observed urbanization patterns and builds on them to provide a better foundation for policy analysis."

S. Benjamin:
Land, Productive Slums, and Urban Poverty, 1979, MIT
One fundamental issue is how we view the relationship between poor groups and economic development, and thus their claim to productive assets especially serviced land. Approaches to rural poverty, even from contrasting ideologies, generally recognise that access to land and its quality are critical for poor groups for survival and move to a more stable situation. In urban situations, land and its locational aspects has been recognised as an important issue. However, policy makers conventionally view this from the perspective of `social' needs, usually translated into housing1. The assumption is that economic growth will `trickle down' benefits to poor groups. In the mean while, poor groups will survive via the Informal Sector, or on the basis of social spending by the State. In a broad way, this assumption justifies access by rich groups to land in productive locations often serviced by State subsidised infrastructure2. The latter are seen to be the creators of economic growth and wealth, which will ultimately benefit the rest of society.
Public Disclosure Authorized by the World Bank - 48154
Foundations for Urban Development in Africa - 2006
The Legacy of Akin Mabogunje

Cities Alliance. Cities Without Slums - UN-HABITAT.

South American Cities: securing an urban future - 2007

Urban Age is a worldwide investigation into the future of cities. Organised by the Cities Programme at the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Alfred Herrhausen Society, the International Forum of Deutsche Bank. The URBAN AGE CITY DATA section has been derived from various official statistical sources, including the United Nations Statistics Division, Instituto Basileiro de Geografia e Estatistica (Brazil), Departamento Administrativo Nacional de Estadistica (Colombia), Instituto Nacional de Estadistica y Censos (Argentina), Instituto Nacional de Estadistica e Informatica (Peru), Observatorio Urbano (Lima) and Ministerio de Desarrollo Urbano (Buenos Aires) as well as individual Ministries, Departments and Secretariats for each city, state and country. Complete data sources available at

From the World Bank database
World Bank Discussion Paper No. 415
Facets of Globalization. International and local dimensions of development
S. Yusuf, S. Evenett and J. Wei, editors
October 2001
The chapters in this volume underscore the transformative role of globalization and urbanization, and show the interplay between these forces. 
Trade reform and liberalized foreign investment regimes have contributed to the spatial reallocation of economic activity toward cities, especially those cities that can attract and nurture human capital and strong connections to other markets.
Global factors have, therefore, reinforced agglomeration economies in shifting economic clout toward cities, and in so doing they may be exacerbating regional disparities in incomes.


World Urban Forum 2008 Seeks More Livable, Sustainable Cities

-- One in three city residents in developing countries lives in slums
-- World Urban Forum looks at how to manage rapid urbanization
-- New World Bank strategy to incorporate both environmental and energy efficiency considerations into urban design

October 30, 2008— How can “heartbreaking” slums become cleaner, kinder, greener places even as more and more people move to cities?
That’s a key question for policy-makers, development practitioners and non-governmental organizations seeking sustainable solutions to urban dilemmas at the World Urban Forum in Nanjing, China, November 3 to 6.
While cities have become engines of growth for developing countries and a magnet for people seeking better economic opportunities, one in every three city residents in developing countries now lives in a slum. The highest-incidence of slum-dwellers (62 percent) is in Sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new UN-Habitat report, “State of the World’s Cities 2008/9: Harmonious Cities.”

A Billion People in Slums
“A billion people in the world live in slums today, and that in itself is a startling fact,” says Abha Joshi-Ghani, Manager of the World Bank’s Urban group. “The quality of life and livability of these areas is really heartbreaking.”
Most  people in slums don’t have drinking water, sanitation, health, or education services, she says.
“While the poverty rate is generally  higher in rural areas, the actual number of poor is higher in urban areas” says Joshi-Ghani.
“Slums are a function of successful labor markets and failed land markets.”
The problem could worsen if, as projected, three-quarters of the world’s population is living in cities by 2013. About 90 percent of urban growth is expected to take place in developing countries.

Poverty Increasingly Urban Phenomenon
Megacity Manila grew by 1.62 million people in seven years as people migrated from rural areas.
“Poverty is increasingly an urban phenomenon,” says Chii Akporji, Communications Officer  of  the  Cities Alliance, a coalition of cities and development partners including the UN and World Bank whose secretariat is housed at the World Bank.

From Finance & Development
A quarterly magazine of the IMF
September 2007 - Volume 44 Number 3

March of the Cities
The Urban Revolution

David E. Bloom and Tarun Khanna
The year 2008 marks a watershed in the complex and ongoing urban revolution. For the first time, more than 50 percent of the world's people will live in urban areas. Rapid urbanization may prove a blessing, provided the world takes notice and plans accordingly.
(pdf file: 732 kb)

Urban Poverty
Martin Ravallion
The poor are gravitating to towns and cities, but maybe not quickly enough. A faster pace of urbanization could induce more rapid poverty reduction. Development policymakers should facilitate this process, not hinder it.
(pdf file: 299 kb)

Big, or Too Big?
Ehtisham Ahmad
Megacities create special issues of governance, funding, and provision of services. Both national governments and megacities can secure potential benefits by exploring the devolution of clearly defined responsibilities and revenue-raising capacity that provide incentives for good governance.
(pdf file: 279 kb)

Point of View
What Is the Biggest Challenge in Managing Large Cities
Matthew Maury, Kishore Mahbubani, and Ramesh Ramanathan and Swati Ramanathan
Three points of view on different ways to manage the expansion of cities well .
(pdf file: 137 kb)

From The World Bank - 18 Sept. 2006
An East Asian Renaissance: Ideas for Economic Growth
Advance Conference Edition
East Asia – a region that has transformed itself since the financial crisis of the 90s by creating more competitive and innovative economies – must now turn to the urgent domestic challenges of inequality, social cohesion, corruption and environmental degradation arising from its success.

Guiding Cities: The Urban Management Programme

Babar Mumtaz and Emiel Wegelin. (136 pages, May 2001)
The way that cities are managed and administered has a direct bearing on their ability to support economic development and mitigate poverty. Therefore all those concerned with either economic or with social development should also be concerned with urban development and management and how their actions impact on cities and vice versa. The primary objective of this book is to provide a guide for those concerned with economic or social development, as well as those concerned more directly with urban development and management, to the main issues and the range of options available to deal with them. The presentation of issues and options is accompanied by examples of practice generated by the Urban Management Programme in cities in countries around the world.
The first section presents an overview of urbanisation and urban management, setting out the processes by which cities grow and develop and the role they play in human and economic development. Some of the main trends and directions of policy advice and intervention are introduced. This is followed by three sections looking at Urban Governance, Urban Poverty Reduction and Urban Environmental Management. Within each section are particular areas, ranging from leadership, accountability and democracy through privatisation, partnership and participation to vulnerability and social exclusion and integration, to urban heritage protection. Within these, problems are summarised, followed by an indication of some of the issues raised in addressing them. Guidelines for Action are presented as a series of steps that could be undertaken in order to confront the issues and resolve the problems. These Guidelines draw upon the experience of the Urban Management Programme, and case studies of (successful) interventions are presented. There is a brief list of resources and documentation that can provide further information and assistance.

From the data files of the World Bank
File 11910
The economics of urbanization and urban policies in developing countries - 1987
George S. Tolley and Vinod Thomas, editors

An Overview of Urban Growth: Problems, Policies, and Evaluati
----Patterns of Urbanization
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----Sources of Future Urbanization
----Economic Causes of Urban Problems
----Urbanization Policy in Market and Mixed Economies
----Urbanization Policy in a Centralized Economy
----Concentration and Decentralization Policies
----Addressing Urban Problems

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Puro Chile la memoria del pueblo
Proyecto para el Primer Siglo Popular

Sector Informal:
C. Ball: La economía informal
Habilidades y competencias para el sector informal en América Latina: Una revisión de la literatura sobre programas y metodologías de formación, María Antonia Gallart, 2002 (ILO)
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