Urbanization and poverty reduction: the role of secondary towns in Tanzania
In 2007, the world reached an important “tipping point” — half its population became urban. But not only is the world urbanizing, it has been doing so much more rapidly. While it took Industrial Europe 110 years (1800-1910) to increase its rate of urbanization from 15 to 40 percent, Asia and Africa did so in only 50 years (1960-2010), or twice as fast. And the urban population in the developing world is also concentrating, living increasingly in few large cities. This also holds in Africa, which already has a clear bimodal distribution of its urban population (Dorosh and Thurlow, 2013). Nonetheless, barring some exceptions, the academic literature and policy mind-sets have been squarely focused on the aggregate rate of urbanization. They seldom go beyond the dichotomous rural-urban distinction, thereby ignoring the distribution of the urban population across cities of different sizes. Results from our research suggest, however, that the composition of urbanization might be as important as its aggregate rate.
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