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New evidence on the urbanization of global poverty

  • Ravallion, Martin
  • Chen, Shaohua
  • Sangraula, Prem

The authors provide new evidence on the extent to which absolute poverty has urbanized in the developing world, and the role that population urbanization has played in overall poverty reduction. They find that one-quarter of the world's consumption poor live in urban areas and that the proportion has been rising over time. By fostering economic growth, urbanization helped reduce absolute poverty in the aggregate but did little for urban poverty. Over 1993-2002, the count of the"$1 a day"poor fell by 150 million in rural areas but rose by 50 million in urban areas. The poor have been urbanizing even more rapidly than the population as a whole. Looking forward, the recent pace of urbanization and current forecasts for urban population growth imply that a majority of the poor will still live in rural areas for many decades to come. There are marked regional differences: Latin America has the most urbanized poverty problem, East Asia has the least; there has been a"ruralization"of poverty in Eastern Europe and Central Asia; in marked contrast to other regions, Africa's urbanization process has not been associated with falling overall poverty.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 4199.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:4199
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  1. Lanjouw, Peter & Ravallion, Martin & DEC, 1994. "Poverty and household size," Policy Research Working Paper Series 1332, The World Bank.
  2. Bocquier, Philippe, 2004. "World Urbanization Prospects: an alternative to the UN model of projection compatible with urban transition theory," Economics Papers from University Paris Dauphine 123456789/4463, Paris Dauphine University.
  3. Anton Korinek & Johan Mistiaen & Martin Ravallion, 2006. "Survey nonresponse and the distribution of income," Journal of Economic Inequality, Springer, vol. 4(1), pages 33-55, April.
  4. Robert Ackland & Steve Dowrick & Benoit Freyens, 2013. "Measuring Global Poverty: Why PPP Methods Matter," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 95(3), pages 813-824, July.
  5. Xavier Sala-i-Martin, 2006. "The World Distribution of Income: Falling Poverty and ... Convergence, Period," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 121(2), pages 351-397, May.
  6. Atkinson, A B, 1987. "On the Measurement of Poverty," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 55(4), pages 749-64, July.
  7. Ravallion, Martin & Datt, Gaurav & van de Walle, Dominique, 1991. "Quantifying Absolute Poverty in the Developing World," Review of Income and Wealth, International Association for Research in Income and Wealth, vol. 37(4), pages 345-61, December.
  8. Ravallion, Martin, 2002. "On the urbanization of poverty," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 68(2), pages 435-442, August.
  9. Ravallion, Martin & Lokshin, Michael, 2010. "Who cares about relative deprivation?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 73(2), pages 171-185, February.
  10. Ravallion, Martin & Huppi, Monika, 1991. "Measuring Changes in Poverty: A Methodological Case Study of Indonesia during an Adjustment Period," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 5(1), pages 57-82, January.
  11. Martin Brockerhoff, 1999. "Urban Growth in Developing Countries: A Review of Projections and Predictions," Population and Development Review, The Population Council, Inc., vol. 25(4), pages 757-778.
  12. Ravallion, Martin & Shaohua Chen, 2004. "China's (uneven) progress against poverty," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3408, The World Bank.
  13. Cohen, Barney, 2004. "Urban Growth in Developing Countries: A Review of Current Trends and a Caution Regarding Existing Forecasts," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 32(1), pages 23-51, January.
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