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Urbanization and (in)formalization

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  • Ghani, Ejaz
  • Kanbur, Ravi

Abstract

Two of the great stylized predictions of development theory, and two of the great expectations of policy makers as indicators of progress in development, are inexorable urbanization and inexorable formalization. Urbanization is indeed happening, beyond the"tipping point"where half the world's population is now urban. However, formalization has slowed down significantly in the past quarter century. Indeed, informality has been increasing. This disconnect raises a number of questions for development analysis and development policy. Is the link between urbanization and formalization more complex than what had been thought? What does this mean for policy? The first core section of this paper asks what exactly is meant by formality and informality. The second core section turns to processes of urbanization and asks how these processes intersect with and interact with the incentives to formalize. The paper examines why cities attract the informal sector and the role that urbanization plays in growth and job creation through both the formal and informal sectors. Cities generate agglomeration benefits in the informal sector, perhaps more so than for the formal sector. The third core section is devoted to policy. At the current conjuncture, agglomeration benefits make a strong case for urbanization as an integral part of development strategy, but concerns about jobless growth and about urban poverty require a focus on the informal sector.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6374.

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Date of creation: 01 Feb 2013
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6374

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Keywords: Population Policies; Labor Markets; Urban Slums Upgrading; Labor Policies; National Urban Development Policies&Strategies;

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  1. Gilles Duranton & Henry G. Overman, 2006. "Exploring the detailed location patterns of UK manufacturing industries using microgeographic data," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19794, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
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  5. Ejaz Ghani & William R. Kerr & Stephen D. O'Connell, 2011. "Local Industrial Structures and Female Entrepreneurship in India," NBER Working Papers 17596, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  7. Mercedes Delgado & Michael Porter & Scott Stern, 2010. "Clusters and Entrepreneurship," Working Papers 10-31, Center for Economic Studies, U.S. Census Bureau.
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  11. Matias Busso & Maria Victoria Fazio & Santiago Levy Algazi, 2012. "(In)Formal and (Un)Productive: The Productivity Costs of Excessive Informality in Mexico," Research Department Publications 4789, Inter-American Development Bank, Research Department.
  12. Desmet, Klaus & Ghani, Ejaz & O'Connell, Stephen D & Rossi-Hansberg, Esteban, 2013. "The Spatial Development of India," CEPR Discussion Papers 9433, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  13. J. Vernon Henderson, 2010. "Cities And Development," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(1), pages 515-540.
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Cited by:
  1. Glaeser, Edward & Joshi-Ghani, Abha, 2013. "Rethinking Cities: Toward Shared Prosperity," World Bank - Economic Premise, The World Bank, issue 126, pages 1-14, October.
  2. Benjamin, Nancy & Beegle, Kathleen & Recanatini, Francesca & Santini, Massimiliano, 2014. "Informal economy and the World Bank," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6888, The World Bank.
  3. Ghani, Ejaz & Kanbur, Ravi & O'Connell, Stephen D., 2013. "Urbanization and agglomeration benefits : gender differentiated impacts on enterprise creation in India's informal sector," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6553, The World Bank.

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