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Urban Myths and the Mis-use of Data that Underpin them


  • Satterthwaite, David


This paper describes the gaps and limitations in the data available on urban populations for many low- and middle-income nations and how this limits the accuracy of international comparisons – for instance of levels of urbanization and of the size of city populations. It also discusses how the lack of attention to data limitations has led to many myths and misconceptions in regard to growth rates for city populations and for nations’ levels of urbanization. It ends with some comments on how data limitations distort urban policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Satterthwaite, David, 2010. "Urban Myths and the Mis-use of Data that Underpin them," WIDER Working Paper Series 028, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  • Handle: RePEc:unu:wpaper:wp2010-28

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Martin Ravallion & Shaohua Chen & Prem Sangraula, 2007. "New Evidence on the Urbanization of Global Poverty," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 33(4), pages 667-701.
    2. Alberto F. Ades & Edward L. Glaeser, 1995. "Trade and Circuses: Explaining Urban Giants," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 195-227.
    3. Sahn, David E. & Stifel, David C., 2003. "Progress Toward the Millennium Development Goals in Africa," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 23-52, January.
    4. Fay, Marianne & Opal, Charlotte, 2000. "Urbanization without growth : a not-so-uncommon phenomenon," Policy Research Working Paper Series 2412, The World Bank.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:wdevel:v:97:y:2017:i:c:p:67-78 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Henderson, J. Vernon & Roberts, Mark & Storeygard, Adam, 2013. "Is urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa different ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6481, The World Bank.
    3. Anima Gupta, 2014. "Measuring Urbanization around a Regional Capital: The Case of Bhopal District," Working Papers id:5716, eSocialSciences.
    4. Potts, Deborah, 2012. "Challenging the Myths of Urban Dynamics in Sub-Saharan Africa: The Evidence from Nigeria," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 1382-1393.

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    urbanization; city populations; censuses;

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