Secondary Towns and Poverty Reduction: Refocusing the Urbanization Agenda

34 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2016 Last revised: 27 Apr 2018

See all articles by Luc Christiaensen

Luc Christiaensen

World Bank

Ravi Kanbur

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

Multiple version iconThere are 4 versions of this paper

Date Written: November 23, 2016


This review is framed around the exploration of a central hypothesis: A shift in public investment toward secondary towns from big cities will improve poverty reduction performance. Of course the hypothesis raises many questions. What exactly is the dichotomy of secondary towns versus big cities? What is the evidence for the contribution of secondary towns versus cities to poverty reduction? What are the economic mechanisms for such a differential contribution and how does policy interact with them? The review finds preliminary evidence and arguments in support of the hypothesis, but the impacts of policy on poverty are quite complex even in simple settings, and the question of secondary towns and poverty reduction is an open area for research and policy analysis.

Keywords: Inequality, Economic Growth, Industrial Economics, Economic Theory & Research, Labor Markets

Suggested Citation

Christiaensen, Luc and Kanbur, Ravi, Secondary Towns and Poverty Reduction: Refocusing the Urbanization Agenda (November 23, 2016). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7895. Available at SSRN:

Luc Christiaensen (Contact Author)

World Bank ( email )

1818 H Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Ravi Kanbur

Cornell University ( email )

301-J Warren Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
United States
607-255-7966 (Phone)
607-255-9984 (Fax)


Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

United Kingdom

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072

Register to save articles to
your library


Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics