Redefining "Urban"

A New Way to Measure Metropolitan Areas

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This report compares urbanisation trends in OECD countries on the basis of a newly defined OECD methodology which enables cross-country comparison of the socio-econimic and environmental performance of metropolitan areas in OECD countries. The methodology is presented and results from its application to 27 OECD countries are discussed together with policy implication both on national growth and governance of cities. The report also includes three original papers that present the urbanisation dynamics and prospects in China and South Africa and the governance challenges resulting from the new policy agenda on cities in the United Kingdom.


Foreword and Acknowledgements

There is no shortage of research on the changing nature of cities and the ways the increasing urbanisation is shaping modern life. Yet too often we fail to ask this simple, but fundamental question: What is a city? How do we determine what is, and what is not an urban reality. Of course we know that London is a bustling UK city, and sparsely populated farmland and moorland in Cumbria are not. In South Africa, we are aware that Gauteng province is urban, while Northern Cape province is not. Increasingly, however, geographical areas are emerging that do not so clearly fit inside or outside such a classification. As metropolitan areas evolve, as mid-sized cities reveal characteristics that are both urban and suburban, as cities and rural life are increasingly interconnected, defining just what we mean when we talk about cities becomes crucial.


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