Urban Expansion

The Urban Expansion Program, supported jointly with the NYU Stern Urbanization Project, works with rapidly-growing cities to make room for their inevitable expansion. The program has a “stakes-in-the-ground” orientation—a focus on real and tangible results in rapidly growing cities. We work with municipal officials and their colleagues at the regional and national levels to make realistic long-term preparations for urban expansion in multiple countries around the world.

To better understand the growth of cities, we also monitor urban expansion in a sample of 200 global cities—collecting and analyzing data on the quantity and quality of urbanization. By focusing on a representative sample, the Monitoring initiative provides researchers with better information from which to draw inferences about how and why urbanization is happening around the world, and what it means for outcomes such as housing affordability and the spatial organization of cities.

Urban expansion is inevitable. Between 1800 and 2000, urban area per person grew at an average annual rate of 1.5% in a representative sample of 30 global cities. For example, while the population of Paris, France grew 20-fold between 1800 and 2000, the city’s built up area grew 200-fold. The rapidly growing cities of the developing world cities can expect similar trajectories. Those that embrace their expansion as inevitable can act now to make room for it.

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Leader: Shlomo (Solly) Angel

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by Shlomo (Solly) Angel, Alejandro Blei, Patrick Lamson-Hall, María Mónica Salazar Tamayo

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