Urbanization and Inequality in Asia

17 Pages Posted: 4 May 2013

See all articles by Ravi Kanbur

Ravi Kanbur

Cornell University; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Juzhong Zhuang

Asian Development Bank

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: March 2013


This paper provides a quantitative analysis of how the changing dual economic structure and urbanization affect inequality in Asia. Focusing on data for four countries — the Peoples’ Republic of China, India, Indonesia, and the Philippines — the paper asks three questions. First, how much of the past increase in inequality can be attributed to urbanization per se — the rising share of urban population, as opposed to other drivers related to the region’s dual economic structure, such as the urban–rural income gap, inequality within the urban sector, and inequality within the rural sector? Second, how might urbanization affect these countries’ inequality in the future as its process continues? Third, moving forward, what is the relative importance of each of these drivers in containing rising inequality in Asia? It is hoped that the framework developed and calculations presented in this paper provide more insights into the dynamics of rising inequality in Asia and can help policy makers prioritize policy actions for confronting it.

Keywords: inequality, Kuznets curve, turning point, urbanization, Asia

JEL Classification: D63, N35, O53, R23

Suggested Citation

Kanbur, Ravi and Zhuang, Juzhong, Urbanization and Inequality in Asia (March 2013). Asian Development Review, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 131-147. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2260109 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2260109

Ravi Kanbur (Contact Author)

Cornell University ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.kanbur.dyson.cornell.edu

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Juzhong Zhuang

Asian Development Bank ( email )

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Metro Manila

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