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Making Cities Work for All

Data and Actions for Inclusive Growth

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Cities are places where opportunities for prosperity coexist with stark inequalities between the richest and the poorest. Cities produce and attract highly educated workers and innovative employers. It is usually easier in cities than in other parts of the country for individuals to climb up the income, education or jobs ladder. But cities, especially the largest ones, also concentrate inequalities, both in income and in other well-being aspects,  that remain remarkably high in many OECD economies. Access to opportunities seems stalled for many low-income urban residents, who often live in distressed neighbourhoods.  This report provides ground-breaking, internationally comparable data on economic growth, inequalities and well-being at the city level in OECD countries. It provides empirical evidence on how cities are diverging from, or converging with, other parts of the country, and of the extent of inequality within cities. Finally, it proposes a framework for action, to help national and local governments reorient policies towards more inclusive growth in cities – a new approach to growth that ensures that no part of society is left behind.

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Foreword and acknowledgments

The return to economic growth is a bumpy, uneven path. Nowhere more than in cities is the divide between prosperity and inequality more apparent. Home to around half of the OECD’s population, approximately 200 cities of 500 000 inhabitants or more have generated over 60% of jobs and economic growth in the past 15 years. At the same time, inequality of income and other well-being outcomes is higher in cities than elsewhere. Access to opportunities seems to stall for many low-income urban residents, who often live concentrated in distressed neighbourhoods. Children in these communities start off in life with low prospects, as their chances of success are increasingly tied to the socioeconomic status of their parents.

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