IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/hal/cesptp/hal-04345529.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

An Anatomy of Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa

Author

Listed:
  • Pierre-Philippe Combes

    (ECON - Département d'économie (Sciences Po) - Sciences Po - Sciences Po - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, CEPR - Center for Economic Policy Research)

  • Clément Gorin

    (UP1 UFR02 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - École d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, CES - Centre d'économie de la Sorbonne - UP1 - Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

  • Shohei Nakamura

    (World Bank Group)

  • Mark Roberts

    (World Bank Group)

  • Benjamin Stewart

    (World Bank Group)

Abstract

This paper provides a detailed descriptive analysis of patterns of urbanization across Sub-Saharan Africa for the year circa 2015. Despite the rapidity and importance of Sub-Saharan Africa's urbanization, little is known about the anatomy of patterns of urbanization across the region due to a lack of detailed and accurate official data on urban settlements and populations. To address this gap, the paper applies a modified version of the "dartboard" algorithm to high-resolution gridded population data for the region, which is derived from digitized maps of the footprints of all buildings in the region from very high-resolution satellite imagery. This allows for a consistent definition of urban areas across all countries in the region, overcoming the measurement problems that arise from relying on official definitions of urban areas, which vary markedly across countries. Using this definition, the paper presents evidence on key empirical regularities that are related to disparities across the urban hierarchies, such as the extent of urban primacy and Zipf's law, as well as on the internal structures of cities, such as population density gradients and the number of centers that cities possess. The paper also analyzes how these characteristics are related to key country characteristics. Finally, the paper compares the results with those that arise from the use of an alternative definition of urban areas—the degree of urbanization.

Suggested Citation

  • Pierre-Philippe Combes & Clément Gorin & Shohei Nakamura & Mark Roberts & Benjamin Stewart, 2023. "An Anatomy of Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa," Université Paris1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Post-Print and Working Papers) hal-04345529, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:hal-04345529
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://sciencespo.hal.science/hal-04345529
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: https://sciencespo.hal.science/hal-04345529/document
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Ch, Rafael & Martin, Diego A. & Vargas, Juan F., 2021. "Measuring the size and growth of cities using nighttime light," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    2. J. Vernon Henderson & Matthew A. Turner, 2020. "Urbanization in the Developing World: Too Early or Too Slow?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 34(3), pages 150-173, Summer.
    3. Jan Eeckhout, 2004. "Gibrat's Law for (All) Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1429-1451, December.
    4. Gilles Duranton, 2007. "Urban Evolutions: The Fast, the Slow, and the Still," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 197-221, March.
    5. Ahlfeldt, Gabriel M. & Pietrostefani, Elisabetta, 2019. "The economic effects of density: A synthesis," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 93-107.
    6. de Bellefon, Marie-Pierre & Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent & Gorin, Clément, 2021. "Delineating urban areas using building density," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    7. Maria Marta Ferreyra & Mark Roberts, 2018. "Raising the Bar for Productive Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean," World Bank Publications - Books, The World Bank Group, number 29279, December.
    8. Bosker, Maarten & Park, Jane & Roberts, Mark, 2021. "Definition matters. Metropolitan areas and agglomeration economies in a large-developing country," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    9. Gilles Duranton, 2015. "A Proposal to Delineate Metropolitan Areas in Colombia," Revista Desarrollo y Sociedad, Universidad de los Andes,Facultad de Economía, CEDE, August.
    10. World Bank, 2009. "Geography in Motion: World Development Report 2009 (excerpt)," Transnational Corporations Review, Ottawa United Learning Academy, vol. 1(3), pages 40-46, September.
    11. de Bellefon, Marie-Pierre & Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent & Gorin, Clément, 2021. "Delineating urban areas using building density," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    12. Brakman,Steven & Garretsen,Harry & van Marrewijk,Charles, 2009. "The New Introduction to Geographical Economics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521875325, December.
    13. Karl A. Fox & T. Krishna Kumar, 1965. "The Functional Economic Area: Delineation And Implications For Economic Analysis And Policy," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 15(1), pages 57-85, January.
    14. Xavier Gabaix & Rustam Ibragimov, 2011. "Rank - 1 / 2: A Simple Way to Improve the OLS Estimation of Tail Exponents," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 29(1), pages 24-39, January.
    15. Dijkstra, Lewis & Florczyk, Aneta J. & Freire, Sergio & Kemper, Thomas & Melchiorri, Michele & Pesaresi, Martino & Schiavina, Marcello, 2021. "Applying the Degree of Urbanisation to the globe: A new harmonised definition reveals a different picture of global urbanisation," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    16. McMillen, Daniel P., 2001. "Nonparametric Employment Subcenter Identification," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 448-473, November.
    17. McDonald, John F., 1987. "The identification of urban employment subcenters," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 21(2), pages 242-258, March.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. de Bellefon, Marie-Pierre & Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent & Gorin, Clément, 2021. "Delineating urban areas using building density," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    2. de Bellefon, Marie-Pierre & Combes, Pierre-Philippe & Duranton, Gilles & Gobillon, Laurent & Gorin, Clément, 2021. "Delineating urban areas using building density," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    3. Duranton, Gilles & Puga, Diego, 2014. "The Growth of Cities," Handbook of Economic Growth, in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 5, pages 781-853, Elsevier.
    4. Baragwanath, Kathryn & Goldblatt, Ran & Hanson, Gordon & Khandelwal, Amit K., 2021. "Detecting urban markets with satellite imagery: An application to India," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    5. Christian Düben & Melanie Krause, 2021. "Population, light, and the size distribution of cities," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 61(1), pages 189-211, January.
    6. Gilles Duranton & Diego Puga, 2023. "Urban Growth and Its Aggregate Implications," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 91(6), pages 2219-2259, November.
    7. Quintero, Luis E. & Roberts, Mark, 2023. "Cities and productivity: Evidence from 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 136(C).
    8. Arribas-Bel, Daniel & Garcia-López, M.-À. & Viladecans-Marsal, Elisabet, 2021. "Building(s and) cities: Delineating urban areas with a machine learning algorithm," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    9. Dai, Tianran & Schiff, Nathan, 2023. "The structure and growth of ethnic neighborhoods," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 137(C).
    10. Valente J. Matlaba & Mark J. Holmes & Philip McCann & Jacques Poot, 2013. "A Century Of The Evolution Of The Urban System In Brazil," Review of Urban & Regional Development Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 25(3), pages 129-151, November.
    11. Rolf Bergs, 2018. "The detection of natural cities in the Netherlands—Nocturnal satellite imagery and Zipf’s law [Die Abgrenzung natürlicher Städte in den Niederlanden: Nachtsatellitenbilder und das Zipf-Gesetz]," Review of Regional Research: Jahrbuch für Regionalwissenschaft, Springer;Gesellschaft für Regionalforschung (GfR), vol. 38(2), pages 111-140, October.
    12. Rafael González‐Val, 2019. "Historical urban growth in Europe (1300–1800)," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 98(2), pages 1115-1136, April.
    13. Galdo, Virgilio & Li, Yue & Rama, Martin, 2021. "Identifying urban areas by combining human judgment and machine learning: An application to India," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 125(C).
    14. Behrens, Kristian & Mion, Giordano & Murata, Yasusada & Suedekum, Jens, 2017. "Spatial frictions," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 40-70.
    15. Oshiro, Jun & Sato, Yasuhiro, 2021. "Industrial structure in urban accounting," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 91(C).
    16. Ahlfeldt, Gabriel M. & Heblich, Stephan & Seidel, Tobias, 2023. "Micro-geographic property price and rent indices," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C).
    17. Giorgio Fazio & Marco Modica, 2015. "Pareto Or Log-Normal? Best Fit And Truncation In The Distribution Of All Cities," Journal of Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 55(5), pages 736-756, November.
    18. Fenske, James & Kala, Namrata & Wei, Jinlin, 2021. "Railways and cities in India," The Warwick Economics Research Paper Series (TWERPS) 1349, University of Warwick, Department of Economics.
    19. Hernán D. Rozenfeld & Diego Rybski & Xavier Gabaix & Hernán A. Makse, 2011. "The Area and Population of Cities: New Insights from a Different Perspective on Cities," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2205-2225, August.
    20. Klaus Desmet & Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 2014. "Spatial Development," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(4), pages 1211-1243, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Urbanization; Sub-Saharan Africa; dartboard approach; satellite imagery; population density;
    All these keywords.

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hal:cesptp:hal-04345529. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a bibliographic reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: CCSD (email available below). General contact details of provider: https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/ .

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.