An Agenda for Research on Urbanization in Developing Countries

In 2010, half the world’s population lives in cities; by 2030, it will be 60 percent. (Population Reference Bureau, 2010) Today, around three‐quarters of the poor in developing countries live in rural areas; by 2030, 50 percent will likely live in cities. (Ravallion et al., 2007) The number of slum dwellers is projected to double from 1 billion to 2 billion over the next 25 years (CARE, 2006). The number of mega‐cities (with populations over 10 million) will have risen from 19 in 2007 to 27 in 2025, most of them in developing countries. (United Nations, 2008)

This phenomenal urbanization process will create many challenges for the developing countries. The problems of cities are well known: cities are congested, polluted, energy‐intensive, ridden by crime, corruption and poverty, and difficult to manage. The financing needs to meet the investment requirements of public infrastructure in cities are enormous: To achieve the modest slum improvement target under the MDGs, the UN estimates that about $4 billion per year are needed. (U.N. High‐Level Panel on Financing for Development, 2001). More generally, meeting the investment requirements of overall urban infrastructure needs in developing countries could be as much as $120 billion a year. (Kharas et al., 2010)

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