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.



Redefining urban areas in OECD countries

This chapter sets out a new methodology for defining urban areas, as functional economic places, in a consistent way across countries. The methodology is applied to 28 OECD countries, where more than 1 000 urban areas (with population greater than 50 000) are identified and compared according to their size, form of development, density and population growth.

The derivation of a methodology able to describe urban areas can help respond to relevant policy questions. First, it can be used to better analyse the links between urbanisation and economic growth, by taking into account that development does not necessarily imply further increases in the size of the metropolitan areas. Development can occur through a strengthening of linkages among medium-sized urban areas. Second, it opens up to monitoring the quality of life of the people living in urban areas and the sustainable use of resources. The work presented is, thus, meant to be a first step towards the development of a new international dataset aimed at monitoring more inclusive forms of growth and sustainable development of both large and medium-sized urban areas.


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