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Quantifying the rural-urban gradient in Latin America and the Caribbean

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  • Chomitz, Kenneth M.
  • Buys, Piet
  • Thomas, Timothy S.

Abstract

This paper addresses the deceptively simple question: What is the rural population of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)? It argues that rurality is a gradient, not a dichotomy, and nominates two dimensions to that gradient: population density and remoteness from large metropolitan areas. It uses geographically referenced population data (from the Gridded Population of the World, version 3) to tabulate the distribution of populations in Latin America and in individual countries by population density and by remoteness. It finds that the popular perception of Latin America as a 75 percent urban continent is misleading. Official census criteria, though inconsistent between countries, tend to classify as"urban"small settlements of less than 2,000 people. Many of these settlements are however embedded in an agriculturally based countryside. The paper finds that about 13 percent of Latin America populations live at ultra-low densities of less than 20 per square kilometer. Essentially these people are more than an hour's distance from a large city, and more than half live more than four hours'distance. A quarter of the population of Latin America is estimated to live at densities below 50, again essentially all of them more than an hour's distance from a large city. Almost half (46 pecent) of Latin America live at population densities below 150 (a conventional threshold for urban areas), and more than 90 percent of this group is at least an hour's distance from a city; about one-third of them (18 percent of the total) are more than four hours distance from a large city.

Suggested Citation

  • Chomitz, Kenneth M. & Buys, Piet & Thomas, Timothy S., 2005. "Quantifying the rural-urban gradient in Latin America and the Caribbean," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3634, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:3634
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Chomitz, Kenneth M & Gray, David A, 1996. "Roads, Land Use, and Deforestation: A Spatial Model Applied to Belize," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 10(3), pages 487-512, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. Nga Thi Viet Nguyen & Felipe F. Dizon, 2017. "The Geography of Welfare in Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, and Togo," World Bank Other Operational Studies 27994, The World Bank.
    2. Uchida, Hirotsugu & Nelson, Andrew, 2010. "Agglomeration Index Towards a New Measure of Urban Concentration," WIDER Working Paper Series 029, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Gustavo Anríquez & Kostas Stamoulis, 2007. "Rural Development and Poverty Reduction; Is Agriculture Still the Key?," Working Papers 07-02, Agricultural and Development Economics Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO - ESA).
    4. Fernando Carriazo & Mónica Juliana Reyes, 2012. "Territorios funcionales: un análisis del gradiente rural-urbano para Colombia," DOCUMENTOS CEDE 010016, UNIVERSIDAD DE LOS ANDES-CEDE.
    5. -, 2012. "Population, territory and sustainable development," Libros y Documentos Institucionales, Naciones Unidas Comisión Económica para América Latina y el Caribe (CEPAL), number 22426 edited by Eclac, February.
    6. Rimisp, 2008. "Investigación Aplicada de Dinámicas Territoriales Rurales en América Latina: Marco Metodológico. Versión 2," Working papers 002, Rimisp Latin American Center for Rural Development.
    7. Gustavo Anríquez & Kostas Stamoulis, 2007. "Rural development and poverty reduction: is agriculture still the key?," The Electronic Journal of Agricultural and Development Economics, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, vol. 4(1), pages 5-46.
    8. Anriquez, Gustavo & Stamoulis, Kostas G., 2007. "Rural Development and Poverty Reduction: Is Agriculture Still Key?," eJADE: electronic Journal of Agricultural and Development Economics, Food and Agriculture Organization, Agricultural and Development Economics Division, vol. 4(1).
    9. Andrés Felipe CASTRO & Natalie GOMEZ ARTEAGA & Guillermo LLINÁS & Diego Andrés MORA, 2015. "Definición de Categorías de Ruralidad," ARCHIVOS DE ECONOMÍA 013652, DEPARTAMENTO NACIONAL DE PLANEACIÓN.
    10. Adamowicz, Mieczysław, 0. "Ekonomiczne Skutki Koncentracji Ludności I Działalności Gospodarczej W Różnych Skalach Geograficznych," Village and Agriculture (WieÅ› i Rolnictwo), Polish Academy of Sciences (IRWiR PAN), Institute of Rural and Agricultural Development, issue 4.
    11. Berdegué, J. & Jara, E. & Modrego, F. & Sanclemente, X. & Schejtman, A., 2010. "Comunas Rurales de Chile," Working papers 060, Rimisp Latin American Center for Rural Development.

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    Keywords

    Agricultural Research; Demographics; Health Indicators; Health Information&Communications Technologies;

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