NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Urban Productivity in the Developing World

Edward L. Glaeser, Wentao Xiong

NBER Working Paper No. 23279
Issued in March 2017
NBER Program(s):The Development Economics Program, The Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship Program

Africa is urbanizing rapidly, and this creates both opportunities and challenges. Labor productivity appears to be much higher in developing-world cities than in rural areas, and historically urbanization is strongly correlated with economic growth. Education seems to be a strong complement to urbanization, and entrepreneurial human capital correlates strongly with urban success. Immigrants provide a natural source of entrepreneurship, both in the U.S. and in Africa, which suggests that making African cities more livable can generate economic benefits by attracting talent. Reducing the negative externalities of urban life requires a combination of infrastructure, incentives, and institutions. Appropriate institutions can mean independent public authorities, public-private partnerships, and non-profit entities depending on the setting.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23279

Published: Edward L. Glaeser & Wentao Xiong, 2017. "Urban productivity in the developing world," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, vol 33(3), pages 373-404.

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