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Jane Jacobs on development


  • David Ellerman


Jane Jacobs is best known as a writer about cities and as a vigorous critic of urban planning. The purpose of this paper is to suggest that she should be read as a writer on economic development who focuses on cities as the principal sites of development. The recent upsurge of interest in migration policies and development is taken as the entry point into her work, e.g. to explain why “poverty reduction” through remittances will tend to be non-developmental. Her ecologically inspired “tangled bank” conception of development as growth through differentiation is used to elucidate a number of developmental issues. It also shows how the “spin-off conundrum” of multiproduct diversification is important to industrial development policies. Several examples are outlined of how that problem has been approached.

Suggested Citation

  • David Ellerman, 2004. "Jane Jacobs on development," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(4), pages 507-521.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:32:y:2004:i:4:p:507-521
    DOI: 10.1080/1360081042000293326

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    Cited by:

    1. Franklin Obeng-Odoom, 2015. "The Social, Spatial, and Economic Roots of Urban Inequality in Africa: Contextualizing Jane Jacobs and Henry George," American Journal of Economics and Sociology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 74(3), pages 550-586, May.
    2. Andrea Ginzburg, 2014. "L’attualità di un dissenziente: l’idea di sviluppo in Albert O. Hirschman," Moneta e Credito, Economia civile, vol. 67(266), pages 205-226.

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