The poverty of cities in developing regions (PDF)
Population and Development Review 24(1): 75-114
Publication date: 1998
Since the 1970s, big cities of the developing world have experienced three unprecedented demographic changes: Most "mega-cities" (cities with 5 million residents or more) have absorbed huge population increments; other large cities have experienced, on average, a doubling of population size; and national populations have become increasingly concentrated in cities with one million or more residents. As a result of these and related changes, the long-standing presumption that living conditions are better for big-city residents has come into question. This study uses indicators of children's status and level of infant mortality to compare well-being across cities of one million or more residents and smaller settlements within developing regions. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the pronounced early survival advantage of big-city residents has declined steadily since the late 1970s and was no longer apparent by the early 1990s. In sub-Saharan Africa "mega-villages" of several hundred thousand people have emerged--places in which such basic human needs as adequate nutrition, schooling, and child health care are less fulfilled than they are even in small towns. In sum, findings suggest that sustainable development of large cities is dependent not only on efficient management, good governance, and sufficient resources, but is also related to cities' size and their rate of population growth.