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Slums are Good for Cities?

December 19, 2007

In “Bright Lights, Big Cities” Matthew Quirk argues for the goodness of burgeoning urban slums. Contrary to intuition, slums, shantytowns, and squatter settlements reduce national poverty. Quirk points out that sixty-six percent of the migrants who move from rural to urban contexts make more money. Yet doesn’t it take more money to live in (or just outside) the city?

In its “State of World Population 2007” report, the UN points out that since the 1990s, perhaps 10 percent of the poverty reduction achieved by developing countries has been the result of migration from the countryside. As a result, Quirk argues that cities should simply try to improve the standard of living in tenements, instead of trying to do away of them. What do you think?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. sam permalink
    January 9, 2008 6:12 am

    true, urban slums are better than rural slums–and the cheap labor supply helps the city prosper (manual labor, etc). but urban slums also breed criminal or otherwise illegal activity, and that may balance out the advantages of slums, if not outweigh them.

  2. January 9, 2008 6:15 am

    good point, sam. i guess if cities took a pro-active stance in cultivating justice and better resources for slums it might really help everyone

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