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City size and national spatial strategies in developing countries (English)

The evidence on the size, structure and functions of LDC cities is evaluated, with the findings used for other suggestions on the scope and feasibility of national spatial strategies. Neither the concept of optimal city or size nor that of an optimal urban hierarchy (based upon naive notions about relative interurban sizes and distances) is helpful. The idea that spatial agglomeration may give way to dispersion (polarization reversal) is more relevant to policy, but definitive evidence to date is limited. There is no clear relationship between city size and function. Small-scale industry is potentially very important in LDCs because of its labor-intensive character. Manufacturing industry is much more heavily concentrated in the primate city in LDCs than in developed countries, and industrial decentralization is likely to be an important component in any national spatial strategy to extend the national urban hierarchy. However, important institutional constraints such as the nature of the planning system, the form of political and territorial organization (e.g., a federal or unitary system), the location of the power base, the legacy of colonialism, and ethnicity rule out a universal prescription for all LDCs.




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Richardson,Harry W.

City size and national spatial strategies in developing countries (English). Staff working paper ; no. SWP 252 Washington, D.C. : World Bank Group.