Managing the potential of cities: cities are increasingly important for economic growth, and this is a situation with enormous potential for Latin America, given that it's the most urbanized region in the world.

Author:Moreno, Alvaro
Position:POLICY AGENDA: URBAN DEVELOPMENT
 
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Latin America is the most urbanized region on the planet. More than 82 percent of its population lives in cities, a level close to that of the United States and well above the world average of 50 percent. By 2050, it's expected that 90 percent of Latin Americans will be city-dwellers. At the same time, migration from the countryside to the city, which has been occurring in most of the region in recent decades, has contributed enormously to economic growth thanks to the synergies that have translated into productivity increases in the cities and cost reductions in delivering basic benefits to their citizens.

CITIES ON THE RISE

Latin America has 200 cities with populations of more than 200,000, and they generate more than 60 percent of Latin Americas Gross Domestic Product (GDP). What's more, the 10 largest cities (Mexico City, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Lima, Bogota, Santiago de Chile, Belo Horizonte, Guadalajara and Caracas) produce 30 percent of the region's GDP, on par with what happens in their counterparts in the more developed regions of the world, and far above the share of the 10 largest cities in wealth generation of the rest of the developing world.

The cities' contribution to their national economies varies. Argentina is by far the economy in which the largest cities are the most important. Buenos Aires is home to about 30 percent of Argentina's population and generates more than 50 percent of its GDP, while 17 other large Argentine cities together represent about 25 percent.

Meanwhile, Colombia has 24 large cities clustered in the Andean and Caribbean regions, with Bogota at the head of the list. It has about 20 percent of the nation's population and accounts for more than 25 percent of the GDP, while the other 23 cities together represent 40 percent of the population and more than 45 percent of GDP.

In Peru and Uruguay, the large cities also concentrate a sizable share of GDP. In Peru, Lima is home to almost 30 percent of the nation's population and produces half of its GDP, while the other 10 large cities represent about 15 percent of the population and 20 percent of the GDP. In Uruguay, Montevideo is the only city with a population of more than 200,000, with about 45 percent of the nation's population and 70 percent of its GDP.

Chile has eight large cities that house almost 55 percent of the population and represent 65 percent of the national economy. Santiago, Gran Concepcion and Vina del Mar-Valparaiso...

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