Urban Productivity in the Developing World


Glaeser, Edward, and Wentao Xiong. 2017. “Urban Productivity in the Developing World.” Oxford Review of Economic Policy 33 (3): 373-404.


Africa is urbanizing rapidly, and this creates both opportunities and challenges. Labour productivity appears to be much higher in developing-world cities than in rural areas, and historically urbanization is strongly correlated with economic growth. Education seems to be a strong complement to urbanization, and entrepreneurial human capital correlates strongly with urban success. Immigrants provide a natural source of entrepreneurship, both in the US and in Africa, which suggests that making African cities more livable can generate economic benefits by attracting talent. Reducing the negative externalities of urban life requires a combination of infrastructure, incentives, and institutions. Appropriate institutions can mean independent public authorities, public–private partnerships, and non-profit entities, depending on the setting.

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Last updated on 11/01/2017