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Transforming Cities: Does Urbanization Promote Democratic Change?

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  • Edward L. Glaeser
  • Bryce Millett Steinberg

Abstract

Could urbanization lead to more democracy and better government for the mega-cities of the developing world? This paper reviews three channels through which urbanization may generate political change. First, cities facilitate coordinated public action and enhance the effectiveness of uprisings. Second, cities may increase the demand for democracy relative to dictatorship. Third, cities may engender the development of “civic capital” which enables citizens to improve their own institutions. History and empirics provide significant support for the first channel, but less evidence exists for the others. Urbanization may improve the quality of poor-world governments, but more research is needed to draw that conclusion.

Suggested Citation

  • Edward L. Glaeser & Bryce Millett Steinberg, 2016. "Transforming Cities: Does Urbanization Promote Democratic Change?," NBER Working Papers 22860, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22860
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Edward L. Glaeser & Wentao Xiong, 2017. "Urban Productivity in the Developing World," NBER Working Papers 23279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • N90 - Economic History - - Regional and Urban History - - - General, International, or Comparative
    • O18 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Urban, Rural, Regional, and Transportation Analysis; Housing; Infrastructure
    • R00 - Urban, Rural, Regional, Real Estate, and Transportation Economics - - General - - - General

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