About Urbanisation in Developing Countries

This is a four year programme of research generously funded by the Multi Donor Trust Fund on Sustainable Urbanisation of the World Bank and supported by the UK Department for International Development.  Our work focuses on the development of Sub-Saharan Africa, looking both at the development of city systems – the urban hierarchy and form within and across countries – and the internal organisation of particular cities.

The programme of research works to:

  • Build credible databases documenting the speed, magnitude and spatial form of urban development in various countries

  • Use data and evidence to establish facts about urbanisation and urban form

  • Examine the determinants and consequences of differing patterns of urban growth

  • Identify the role of policy interventions and establish effective policy priorities

Ideally, economic growth and urbanization go hand in hand and are critical to poverty reduction in a country. Ultimately, cities provide both the lived environment and the work environment for most people in high-income countries and an increasing number of middle income ones. Cities have the potential to reap major economies of scale and scope.

But the gains from urbanization are not automatic. Urbanisation requires three distinct investment processes: public investment in infrastructure, enterprise investment in productive capital, and household investment in housing and human capital. These investments interact and require coordination and sequencing. Managing them requires a high level of commitment and consensus on strategic policy directions across a wide range of actors at both the national and local level. Many cities have not offered the policy environment needed to reach the investment levels required for effective urbanisation. One purpose of this major program of work is to ignite such awareness among researchers and policymakers especially in countries where much urbanization has yet to occur and there is an opportunity for a better start.

Principal Investigators

Tony Venables

Principal Investigator

BP Professor of Economics, University of Oxford

Paul Collier

Principal Investigator

Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

Vernon Henderson

Principal Investigator

Professor of Economic Geography, Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics

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Our Partners

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Find Us

The Department of Economics
University of Oxford
Manor Road Building, 2nd Floor
Manor Rd, Oxford

The Centre for Economic Performance
32 Lincoln's Inn Fields
2nd floor, London

Contact Us

Contact the programme:

Email: urbanisation@economics.ox.ac.uk