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Understanding the origins and pace of Africa’s urban transition

Fox, Sean (2011) Understanding the origins and pace of Africa’s urban transition. Crisis states working papers series N.2 (89). London School of Economics and Political Science, London, UK.

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In this paper the author argues that urbanisation should be understood as a global historical process driven primarily by population dynamics stimulated by technological and institutional change. In particular, disease control and expanded access to surplus energy supplies are necessary and sufficient conditions for urbanisation to occur given historical evidence of an inherent human propensity to agglomerate. Economic development, which has traditionally been viewed as the primary driving force behind urbanisation, can accelerate the process but is not a necessary condition for it to occur. Informed by this historically-grounded theory of urbanisation, a range of qualitative and quantitative evidence is used to explain the stylised facts of sub-Saharan Africa's urban transition, namely the late onset of urbanisation in Africa vis-a-vis other major world regions, the widely noted but inadequately explained phenomenon of 'urbanisation without growth' observed in Africa in the 1980s and 1990s, and the historically unprecedented rates of urban population growth seen in the region throughout the late twentieth century.

Item Type: Monograph (Working Paper)
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2011 S. Fox
Divisions: International Development
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
JEL classification: J - Labor and Demographic Economics > J1 - Demographic Economics
N - Economic History > N0 - General
N - Economic History > N9 - Regional and Urban History
O - Economic Development, Technological Change, and Growth > O1 - Economic Development
R - Urban, Rural, and Regional Economics > R1 - General Regional Economics > R11 - Regional Economic Activity: Growth, Development, and Changes
Sets: Departments > International Development
Research centres and groups > Crisis States Research Centre
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2012 11:59
Last Modified: 20 Nov 2019 04:29

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