Raising the bar for productive cities in Latin America and the Caribbean
With more than 70 percent of its population living in cities, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is among the most urbanized regions in the world. Yet, although its cities are, on average, more productive than those elsewhere in the world, their productivity lags that of North American and Western European cities. Closing this gap provides LAC with the opportunity to raise living standards and join the ranks of the world’s richest countries. Raising the Bar: Cities and Productivity in Latin America and the Caribbean is about the productivity of cities in LAC and the factors that help to explain its determination. Based on original empirical research, the report documents the high levels of population density and other features of LAC cities that mark them out from those in the rest of the world. The report also studies the role of three key factors – urban form, skills, and access to markets – in determining the productivity of LAC cities. It shows that while excessive congestion forces and inadequate metropolitan coordination seem to be stifling the benefits of agglomeration, LAC cities benefit from strong human capital externalities. It also finds that, within individual LAC countries, cities are poorly integrated with one another, which contributes to large differences in performance across cities and undermines their aggregate contribution to productivity at the national level.