SERIES: Wolfensohn Center for Development Working Papers | No. 19 of 20 « Previous | Next »

Urban Poverty in Developing Countries: A Scoping Study for Future Research


This paper is a scoping exercise to explore options for research on urban poverty in developing countries. Based on a review of the literature and experience, the first part of the paper reviews the changing nature of the urban poverty agenda over the last 30 years by comparing today’s issues with those addressed in World Development Report 1979. The issues are categorized by new issues, old issues still relevant, and forgotten issues; and are grouped by challenges, instruments, analytical and planning tools, data and benchmarks, regions/countries/cities, and institutions. The conclusion of this part of the paper is that while some of the old issues and prescriptions are still valid today, and some important ones apparently forgotten, there are many new issues and approaches that need now be considered. The second part of the paper takes the large array of issues identified in the first section and selects 10 for more detailed consideration as part of a menu of potential high-priority research initiatives on urban poverty. They include slums, employment, small- and medium-size cities, and women/children/youth (from among the challenges); comprehensive slum upgrading programs, conditional cash transfer programs, and incentive-based approaches (from among instruments); happiness and life satisfaction research approaches, impact evaluation, and strategic planning tools (from among analytical and planning tools). Among regions, countries and cities, Africa is recommended as a regional focus, China and India for country studies, and Bogota (or possibly other large cities) for specific city studies.

SERIES: Wolfensohn Center for Development Working Papers | No. 19