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Spatial inequality and development

Overview of UNU-WIDER Project

Ravi Kanbur and Anthony J. Venables

UNU-WIDER

September 2005

SARPN acknowledges UNU-WIDER as the source of this document.
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Abstract

The UNU-Wider project on ‘Spatial disparities in development’, directed by Ravi Kanbur and Anthony J. Venables, has analyzed evidence on the extent of spatial inequalities in over 50 developing countries. The peer reviewed papers published under the auspices of the project find that spatial inequalities are high, with disparities between rural and urban areas, and also between geographically advantaged and disadvantaged regions. In many countries such disparities are increasing, partly as a consequence of the uneven impact of trade openness and globalization. While there are efficiency gains from the concentration of economic activity in urban centers and in coastal districts, the associated regional inequalities are a major contributor to overall inequality. They are particularly worrying if they align with political or ethnic divisions. The broad outline of appropriate policy for managing high and rising spatial disparities is also clear. The case for policy interventions to ensure a more spatially equitable allocation of infrastructure and public services, and for policies to ensure freer migration, has been made powerfully in the papers in this project.



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