Developing Cities: Between Economic and Urban Policies in Latin America after World War Ii

17 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2005

See all articles by Michele Alacevich

Michele Alacevich

University of Bologna - Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche e Sociali; Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET)

Andrea Costa


Date Written: July 2005


The main purpose of this paper is to analyze the strong interrelations that developed among economic and urban programs in the early 1950s. A particular attention is devoted to the case of big Latin American cities, since it was there - even more than in Europe or North America - that the multifaceted programming effort gained its greater momentum.

The need for wide interventions for economic and urban development after World War II found of course its first application during the European Recovery period. The Marshall Plan on one side, and regional plans for territorial reorganization which were set on in countries like Great Britain, the Netherlands, and Germany, on the other side, were clear examples of the widespread new programming approach to development of European countries.

The plan was the main tool, common to economic as well as to urban policies, while equilibrium was the principal concept, which framed the elaboration and the implementation of any development plan. As for economics, many scholars and analysts developed the so-called theory of balanced growth, where the breaking of vicious circles of poverty and the success of critical efforts toward development could not avoid to consider interdependences between supply and demand sides, urban and rural sectors, different industries. As for territorial policies, the equilibrated development of urban tissues and resources was the concrete, material shape of social progress.

These ideas and suggestions had a great opportunity of implementation in the newborn so-called Third World, and many professional advisers devoted themselves to development of backward countries. We identified in Colombia a case worthy of study, since it catalyzed attention of both economists and urban planners.

In fact, Colombia was the first backward country to host a general survey mission by the World Bank, which was expected to be the pattern for further Bank's actions toward less developed countries. The mission's leader, Lauchlin Currie, former special economic advisor to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, eventually decided to reside in Colombia, where he implemented many development plans. In the same years, some amongst the most important architects travelled to Latin America, where they thought they could realize urban plans to a scope that had not been possible in Europe.

What is particularly interesting to the aims of the present paper, is the fact that Le Corbusier and Jose Luis Sert, president of CIAM (International Congresses of Modern Architecture), both worked in Colombia. Furthermore, Sert and Currie established an active collaboration upon the development plan for the city of Bogota. Economic and urban planning merged together in a comprehensive development plan.

Keywords: Urban planning, Economic planning, Bogota, Lauchlin Currie, Jose Luis Sert

JEL Classification: N66, O21, O41

Suggested Citation

Alacevich, Michele and Costa, Andrea, Developing Cities: Between Economic and Urban Policies in Latin America after World War Ii (July 2005). Available at SSRN: or

Michele Alacevich (Contact Author)

University of Bologna - Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche e Sociali ( email )

Strada Maggiore 45
Bologna, 40129

Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) ( email )

300 Park Avenue South, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10010
United States

Andrea Costa

Independent ( email )

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