World Development Report 2009: Reshaping Economic Geography

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The World Bank's World Development Report 2009: Reshaping Economic Geography argues that the most effective policies for promoting long-term growth are those that advocate transformations along the dimensions of economic geography and economic integration.

The central message is that economic growth will be unbalanced. Attempting to spread it out will only discourage growth, essentially fighting prosperity instead of poverty.

Despite this unbalanced growth, however, development can still be inclusive if governments promote economic integration in their policy debates on urbanization, territorial development and regional integration.

The report concludes that promoting transformations along the three dimensions of economic geography are crucial to development and should be encouraged. These three dimensions are:

  • Density. Higher densities as cities grow.
  • Distance. Shorter distances as workers and business migrate closer to density.
  • Division. Fewer divisions as countries lower their economic borders and enter world markets to take advantage of scale and specialization.

The United States and Japan have reshaped their economic geography along these lines, and China is doing so now. The report suggests that similar changes will help developing nations in other parts of the world, in particular Africa.

Read the WDR 2009

Read a review of the WDR 2009 by Daniel Biau, Director of Regional Technical Cooperation Division, UN-HABITAT

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