Syndicate content

Add new comment

Fridays Academy: Urbanization and Growth

Ignacio Hernandez's picture

From Raj Nallari and Indira Iyer's lecture notes.


Urbanization and Poverty

Currently an estimated one third of all urban residents are poor, which represents one quarter of the world’s total poor. Many of these are in small cities and towns where the incidence of poverty tends to be higher than in big cities. With continued urbanization, however, the numbers of the urban poor are predicted to rise and poverty will increasingly be more an urban phenomenon.

The incidence of urban poverty, or the share of poor as a proportion of the urban population, is highest for South Asia (35 percent) and Sub Saharan Africa (40 percent) as shown in the table below. Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) and ECA have the greatest proportion of urban poor relative to the total poor, as a result of the high urbanization rates in these regions. The urban poor account for 66 percent and 50 percent of the total poor in these two regions. Overall, MENA has the lowest incidence and share of urban poverty. Urban poverty incidence is notably lower in East Asia and the Pacific (EAP), Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) and Middle East and North Africa (MENA) than the other regions reflecting initial conditions.


Urban Poverty Estimates 2002

(using $1.08/day and $2.15/day poverty lines in 1993 PPP values)

Source: Ravallion, Chen and Sangraula. 2007.

Note: The headcount index represents the proportion of the urban population below the poverty line. The urban share of the poor represents the proportion of the urban poor of the total poor.


The increasing number of urban poor also leads to declining hygiene and access to health facilities. In fact, the World Bank (2003) study of Urban Poverty in East Asia found that in the Philippines, the infant mortality rate of the poor is higher in the urban areas than in the rural areas, which is one indication of deteriorating living conditions of the urban poor.


Emerging Key Issues in Urbanization

Rapid urbanization has thrown up some key issues that have to be addressed for sustainable urban growth. These include limited access to income and employment in urban cities; urban slums; megacities and urban agglomeration; and urban land management and housing. We will be discussing these in detail during the next few weeks.