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Is urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa different ?

Author

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  • Henderson, J. Vernon
  • Roberts, Mark
  • Storeygard, Adam

Abstract

In the past dozen years, a literature has developed arguing that urbanization has unfolded differently in post-independence Sub-Saharan Africa than in the rest of the developing world, with implications for African economic growth overall. While African countries are more urbanized than other countries at comparable levels of income, it is well-recognized that total and sector gross domestic product data are of very low quality, especially in Africa. When instead viewed from the perspective of effective technology, as suggested in endogenous growth frameworks (and as proxied by educational attainment), the African urbanization experience overall matches global patterns. There are differences, however, at the sector level. Agricultural trade effects that improve farm prices deter African urbanization, while they promote urbanization elsewhere. Potential reasons include differences in land ownership institutions and the likelihood of agricultural surpluses being invested in urban production. Positive shocks to modern manufacturing spur urbanization in the rest of the developing world, but effects are dependent on the level of development. Thus many countries in Africa, with their lower level of development, do not respond to these shocks. Finally, historical indicators of the potential for good institutions promote urbanization both inside and outside Africa.

Suggested Citation

  • Henderson, J. Vernon & Roberts, Mark & Storeygard, Adam, 2013. "Is urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa different ?," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6481, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6481
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Sebnem Kalemli-Ozcan & Bent E. Sørensen, 2014. "Misallocation, Property Rights, and Access to Finance: Evidence from within and across Africa," NBER Chapters,in: African Successes, Volume III: Modernization and Development, pages 183-211 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Esteban Rossi-Hansberg & Mark L. J. Wright, 2007. "Urban Structure and Growth," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(2), pages 597-624.
    3. Barrios, Salvador & Bertinelli, Luisito & Strobl, Eric, 2006. "Climatic change and rural-urban migration: The case of sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 357-371, November.
    4. Davis, James C. & Henderson, J. Vernon, 2003. "Evidence on the political economy of the urbanization process," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(1), pages 98-125, January.
    5. Paul Collier & Benedikt Goderis, 2009. "Structural policies for shock-prone developing countries," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(4), pages 703-726, October.
    6. Arvind Subramanian & Jonathan David Ostry & Simon Johnson, 2007. "The Prospects for Sustained Growth in Africa; Benchmarking the Constraints," IMF Working Papers 07/52, International Monetary Fund.
    7. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2008. "Heteroskedasticity-Robust Standard Errors for Fixed Effects Panel Data Regression," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 76(1), pages 155-174, January.
    8. Markus Brückner & Antonio Ciccone, 2010. "International Commodity Prices, Growth and the Outbreak of Civil War in Sub-Saharan Africa," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 120(544), pages 519-534, May.
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    10. Paul Collier & Benedikt Goderis, 2009. "Structural policies for shock-prone developing countries," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(4), pages 703-726, October.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Douglas Gollin & Remi Jedwab & Dietrich Vollrath, 2016. "Urbanization with and without industrialization," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 21(1), pages 35-70, March.
    2. Adriana Kocornik-Mina & Thomas K.J. McDermott & Guy Michaels & Ferdinand Rauch, 2015. "Flooded cities," GRI Working Papers 221, Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment.
    3. Matthew Collin & Justin Sandefur & Andrew Zeitlin, 2015. "Falling Off the Map: The Impact of Formalizing (Some) Informal Settlements in Tanzania," CSAE Working Paper Series 2015-09, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
    4. Jedwab, Remi & Christiaensen, Luc & Gindelsky, Marina, 2017. "Demography, urbanization and development: Rural push, urban pull and…urban push?," Journal of Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(C), pages 6-16.
    5. Henderson, J. Vernon & Storeygard, Adam & Deichmann, Uwe, 2017. "Has climate change driven urbanization in Africa?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 124(C), pages 60-82.
    6. Henderson, J. Vernon & Storeygard, Adam & Deichmann, Uwe, 2014. "50 years of urbanization in Africa : examining the role of climate change," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6925, The World Bank.
    7. Jedwab, Remi & Vollrath, Dietrich, 2015. "Urbanization without growth in historical perspective," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 1-21.
    8. World Bank Group, 2015. "Stocktaking of the Housing Sector in Sub-Saharan Africa," World Bank Other Operational Studies 23358, The World Bank.
    9. Desmet, Klaus & Henderson, J. Vernon, 2015. "The Geography of Development Within Countries," Handbook of Regional and Urban Economics, Elsevier.
    10. Margaret McMillan & Kenneth Harttgen, 2014. "Working Paper - 209 - What is driving the African Growth Miracle," Working Paper Series 2145, African Development Bank.

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    Keywords

    Population Policies; Emerging Markets; Economic Theory&Research; Environmental Economics&Policies; E-Business;

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