Why So Many Emerging Megacities Remain So Poor

Source: http://www.theatlanticcities.com/, RICHARD FLORIDA

he big story of global economic development over the past several decades has been the steady march of urbanization and the development of mega-cities around the world. As I noted earlier this week, the percentage of the world’s population that lives in cities has grown from less than a third in the middle of the twentieth century to more than half today.

Economists and urbanists have generally considered increasing urbanization to be a good thing. The long history of global cities — from ancient Rome to London and New York today — is a story of increasing progress and prosperity.

But those concerned with the “Global South” have rightly pointed to the persistent poverty in some large, dense cities of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Consider the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kinshasa — a booming megalopolis of 8.4 million in a country that has a GDP per capita of only $410.

If urbanization really helps drive economic development, why do many global cities remain poor?

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