Levels of Urbanization in the World’s Countries: Alternative Estimates

Leontine Alkema, National University of Singapore
Cynthia Lai, National University of Singapore

BACKGROUND Estimates of urbanization levels for all countries, as published in the United Nations World Urbanization Prospects, are not comparable across countries because they are based on national definitions of urbanization, which vary greatly across countries. OBJECTIVE To construct alternative estimates of urbanization which are comparable across countries, to use these estimates to point out definitional problems or outlying countries with interesting urban characteristics. METHODS AND RESULTS Alternative estimates of urbanization are constructed using variables that are associated with urbanization, as well as a categorical variable that summarizes the urban definition. In 2000, the difference between the alternative estimate and the UN estimate was more than 10 per cent for 67 countries. CONCLUSIONS Comparison of urbanization estimates across countries should be treated with care, given the wide range of definitions used. To produce more informative estimates of urbanization, several countries would need to clarify or rethink their definition of urban.

  See paper

Presented in Poster Session 6