Might Free Trade Be a Tool to Curb Urban Slums?


The spread of Ebola in West Africa poses a gigantic logistical challenge for the rest of the world, which is keen not only to stop human suffering but also to contain a potential epidemic.

The spread of Ebola in West Africa poses a gigantic logistical challenge for the rest of the world, which is keen not only to stop human suffering but also to contain a potential epidemic.

 

Two children sit in front of their home in the Santa Luzia slum, in Brasilia May 30, 2014. REUTERS/Joedson Alves

The challenge comes even as demographers raise their projections for global population growth, calculating that the previous estimated peak population of 9 billion in 2050 will in fact just be a way station on the way to 11 billion by the end of the century. Many of the world’s new citizens will be in Africa’s developing nations.

Among the myriad issues raised is how to influence the distribution of this population.

The World Bank has crunched some numbers and discovered some correlations that are not at all common knowledge and may be of use. It turns out that trade liberalization tends to lead to a more disperse settlement pattern, with more medium-sized cities and less pressure to build so-called megacities.

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