Tuesday, February 15, 2011

For better or worse, Mubarak's Egypt resisted the urban juggernaut

This story from the New York Times reports that Egypt is the only "large country to have become less urban" during the past three decades. The headline is "For Egypt, a Fresh Start, with Cities." An excerpt follows:

When Hosni Mubarak took power in 1981, Egypt was indeed more urban than the rest of the world. About 44 percent of its population lived in cities. In East Asia, by comparison, only 26 percent of people lived in cities.

Since then, the cities of Asia have expanded rapidly, drawing in millions of peasant farmers looking for a better life — and, more often than not, finding it.
Journalist David Leonhardt informs us that while nearly half of East Asians live in cities, only 43% of Egyptians do.

More interesting than these statistics is Leonhardt's discussion of the apparent benefits of urbanization--especially in the developing world--because cities "make us smarter" and are--according to those he quotes--important engines for economic growth. Read more here.

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