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URBAN ECONOMY | Globalisation and Structural Adjustment Programmes

This cluster highlights a number of responses to current globalisation processes and structural adjustment programmes including new policy analyses of urban economies, new initiatives and practical measures to modify the impact of adjustment on poor communities.


quick links

local level city level
  international level websites

local level

Ottolini, Cesare (2000) - The Habitant's Association and the ICTS, Proposals for an International Research-Action - May 2000 ESF/N-AERUS Workshop [pdf]

The technological innovation in the information fields is in fact provoking a real revolution in the relationships between production and exchange, and is thereby accelerating the globalization processes. We are dealing with an unprecedented revolution whose influence permeates as far as the families and the city quarters.

city level

Barwa, S.D. (1995) - Discussion Paper 3: Structural adjustment programmes and the urban informal sector in Ghana - International Labour Office, Geneva [pdf]

Ghana - This study on Ghana confirms the negative overall impact of the structural adjustment programme on the urban informal sector. But the informal sector entrepreneurs in Ghana appear to have shown a better response in the sense that many were able to adapt their production technologies and product lines and have developed niche markets. This study, which is largely based on data collected by other researchers, also discusses the differential impact on various sub-sectors and groups. One weakness of all these studies has been that they have essentially looked at the short-term impact of structural adjustment programmes. They nevertheless provide some indications for future policy change in this area.

Latapí, Agustín Escobar & Mercedes González de la Rocha (1995) - "Crisis, restructuring and urban poverty in Mexico" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol. 7 No. 1, April 1995 - IIED [pdf]

Mexico-This paper describes the scale and nature of urban poverty in Mexico and how it changed during the 1980s and early 1990s. The authors draw on their own research in Guadalajara and on other studies in Mexico and in other Latin American countries to consider how men and women within households responded to rising prices, falling incomes and other economic and social problems. The paper also includes a review of how poverty and inequality have changed in Mexico, over the last few decades.

Hasan, Arif (2002) -"The changing nature of the informal sector in Karachi as a result of global restructuring and liberalization" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol 14 No 1 April 2002 - IIED [pdf]

Pakistan-This paper describes how much of Karachi’s population has relied on informal settlements for housing, informal infrastructure for water and sanitation, informal services for health care and education and informal enterprises for employment. These have filled the gap between what large sections of the population needed and what neither government nor formal private enterprises provided. The paper then discusses the changes that global restructuring and liberalization have brought, which include inflation (as the rupee devalued) and the decline of light engineering industry (unable to compete with cheap imports), and carpets and textiles production (in part because of greatly increased electricity charges). It suggests that, while the communications revolution helps fuel aspirations, the informal organizations and the middlemen that manage them will no longer bridge the gap between needs and aspirations for most of the population. Since there is no sign of new private investment, the result is also growing unemployment and widening inequalities. As yet, there is no research on the long-term effects of liberalization on this city with some 10 million inhabitants.

Jenkins, Paul; Paul Robson and Allan Cain (2002)-"Local responses to globalization and peripheralization in Luanda, Angola"- Environment & Urbanization, Vol 14 No 1, April 2002, IIED [pdf]

Angola-This paper questions the likely benefits of globalization for Luanda by considering how global political and economic forces affect the lives of its 3.4 million inhabitants. Most live in informal, self-constructed settlements which lack basic infrastructure and services. Most receive little benefit from the nation's oil and diamond exports, while many have had their livelihoods eroded by the collapse of the local economy and the contraction of the state. The paper also describes how the city has always been shaped by external forces – as a port serving the slave trade or colonial export agriculture – and what the role of external forces has been in creating and perpetuating the long-running civil war.

Kanji, Nazneen (1995) - " Gender, poverty and economic adjustment in Harare, Zimbabwe" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol. 7 No. 1, April 1995, IIED [pdf]

Zimbabwe-This paper examines the changes in household incomes, expenditure, savings and debts, patterns of work, living costs and use of social services among 100 households in a low-income settlement in Harare, Zimbabwe. The households were interviewed in mid-1991 as the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme began, and one year later in mid-1992 to see what changes had occurred. The paper considers the way in which gender functions as a critical variable in determining the effects of Structural Adjustment and disaggregates changes in incomes, expenditures and work of men and women and their effect on gender relations.

Pírez, Pedro (2002) - "Buenos Aires: fragmentation and privatization of the metropolitan city" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol 14 No 1, April 2002 - IIED [pdf]

Argentina-This paper describes how Buenos Aires has been affected by changes in political structures and economic orientations that are linked to globalization, including the removal of trade barriers, privatization and “reduced” government. In the absence of any democratic decision making at the metropolitan level, key decisions are left to market forces, especially to the powerful economic actors, including developers and private companies now controlling privatized “public” services. The only true “planning” occurs within large private developments, including the gated communities in which half a million people now live. A growing spatial fragmentation accompanies growing levels of inequality. The metropolitan area fails to provide an arena for its citizens, which means that any general public interest is lost as the built environment is reshaped and constructed in response to private demands.

Potts, Deborah with Chris Mutambirwa (1998) - “Basics are now a luxury”: perceptions of structural adjustment’s impact on rural and urban areas in Zimbabwe - Environment & Urbanization, Vol. 10 No. 1, April 1998 - IIED [pdf]

Zimbabwe - This describes differences in the impact of the Economic Structural Adjustment Policy on Zimbabwe's rural and urban areas through the views of recent migrants to Harare. Although the outcomes of this policy have been more acutely felt in the city than in the countryside, rural populations have also suffered in multiple ways. Due to the strength of rural-urban interactions and the economic interdependence between city and countryside, the impact of structural adjustment is not clearly geographically defined.

international level

Collingwood, Vivien, edt (2002) - Good Governance and the Worl Bank - Bretton Woods Project [pdf]

The World Bank's 'good governance' agenda is concerned with the relationship between the state, the market, and civil society in loan-receiving countries. The Bank argues that in order to be effective, the state must play a critical role in managing and regulating the market and civil society. This briefing paper looks in detail at the Bank's conception of 'good governance', examines how it has been implemented in practice, and identifies some of the tensions underlying the governance agenda.

Gossé, Marc (1999) - Problemes Conceptuels du Developpement Urbain - Institut Supérieur d'Architecture La Cambre, Bruxelles - March 1999 ESF/N-AERUS Workshop [pdf]

Plutôt que de se livrer à une analyse généalogique et critique (par ailleurs bien nécessaire et à laquelle se livreront de nombreux intervenants à cette session de travail vénicienne) du vocabulaire dominant des agences internationales de coopération au développement (Système des Nations Unies, Banque Mondiale, Bureau International du Travail, Union Européenne....) concernant les faits urbains, comme la "durabilité"(1) , la "bonne gouvernance", la "participation publique", la "sécurité foncière" ou la "replicabilité", dont les traductions en différentes langues montrent d'emblée le flou conceptuel, nous aborderons quant à nous une réflexion sur les
enjeux que représentent les "théories" ou "paradigmes" véhiculés par le monde des architectes et des urbanistes, et auxquels les spécialistes des problèmes urbains relatifs aux pays du Tiers-Monde ne semblent accorder aucune importance.

Helmsing, A.H.J. (Bert) (2001) - Partnerships, Meso-institutions and Learning New local and regional economic development initiatives in Latin America - Institute of Social Studies, The Hague [pdf]

Chile and Colombia had decentralized government functions which created space for local initiatives. In Mexico the coming to power of the opposition created space for new local efforts. Globalization, through MERCOSUR and NAFTA, played a role in Argentina and Mexico. However, in certain cities such as Rafaela, Auracania and Ilo, other random factors such as disease, unexploited resource opportunities and negative environmental consequences of mining stimulated initiatives.

Janeba, Eckhard & Guttorm Schjeldrup (2002) - The Future of Globalization:Tax Competition and Trade Liberalization -, Background Paper- World Development Report 2003 - World Bank [pdf]

This paper presents some recent findings in the literature on tax competition and the political economy of trade, and discusses interesting policy implications from these intertwined fields pertaining to globalization. A basic message that emerges from early contributions is that tax competition leads to underprovision of public goods and a shift of tax burden from mobile factors (such as capital) to less mobile factors (such as labor).

Rivière d'Arc, Hélène (1999) - Les mots-concepts de la Banque Mondiale et la gestion décentralisée des villes au Mexique et au Brésil - CREDAL / CNRS / March 1999 ESF/N-AERUS Workshop [pdf]

Ce qu’on appelé en Amérique latine la transition démocratique qui a marqué les années 1980, a eu des effets considérables sur la gestion des villes, non seulement sur le discours dorénavant tenu par de nombreuses municipalités mais aussi sur les politiques et les priorités affichées. Un des effets les plus visibles et qui mérite
d’être souligné d’emblée, c’est l’accès à la propriété du sol urbain par des millions de familles au cours des vingt dernières années.

Sassen, Saskia (2002) - "Locating cities on global circuits"- Environment & Urbanization, Vol 14 No 1, April 2002 - IIED [pdf]

This paper discusses the cities that have the resources which enable firms and markets to be global. It considers the new intensity and complexity of globally-connected systems of production, finance and management which may disperse production, yet need (relatively few) networks of cities to provide their organizational and management architecture. This produces new geographies and hierarchies of centrality – particular cities and regions that have key roles in globalization. Many such cities become far more closely linked to the global economy than to their regional or national economies – and this can have harsh consequences locally, pushing out firms and people that are not within the internationalized sector. The paper discusses why certain cities retain such importance, when production is so dispersed and when telecommunications and rapid transport systems have limited the advantages of spatial concentration. It also considers the dependence of global cities on each other; a crisis in one key centre often brings problems rather than opportunities for others.

Jai, Sen ( 2002) - On Building Another World : Or : Are other globalisations possible ? - World Social Forum [pdf]

The slogan of the World Social Forum as it stands today is ‘Another World Is Possible !’. This paper is an attempt to critically interrogate and reflect on the theory and practice of the World Social Forum as an idea.1 I want to start by asking the question I was asked last night at dinner : Just what does the ‘democratisation of globalisation’ mean ? I recognise that this is a little different from the issue of ‘global democratisation’ that we are concerned with here at this Seminar, but it is still this that is the question that is most commonly asked. To the person who asked me this question, it is a meaningless phrase; she insisted that since globalisation is – as she understands it – just another word for capitalism, and since you cannot democratise capitalism, the phrase has no real meaning – and is therefore an illusion.

van Vliet, Willem (2002) -"Cities in a globalizing world: from engines of growth to agents of change" - Environment & Urbanization, Vol 14 No 1, April 2002 - IIED [pdf]

This paper describes the key role that city authorities and their civil societies should play in mediating the relationship between economic globalization and human development so that cities act not only as engines of growth but also as agents for greater social justice and environmental sustainability. In a globalizing and urbanizing world, urban governments have a much more important role in guaranteeing that citizen needs are met and citizen rights are respected. This is not a conventional public-sector-led, professionally determined role but one more rooted in participatory democracy and partnerships with citizens, both to redress the limits of market mechanisms and to ensure urban livability.

Wilks, Alex and Fabien Lefrançois (2002) - Blinding with Science or Encouraging Debate?-How World Bank Analysis Determines PRSP Policies - Bretton Woods Project [pdf]

Far from abandoning aid conditionality, international financial institutions are collaborating to retool the aid regime under the rubric of ‘ownership’ and aid effectiveness. Aid has become increasingly technocratic, with an overwhelming reliance on donor systems of aid management and accountability, implemented by a host of consultants and advisors.

World Social Forum (2003) - Colonialidad del poder, globalizacion y democracia - WSF [pdf]

En esta ocasión me propongo, sobre todo, abrir algunas de las cuestiones centrales que me parecen aún no suficientemente indagadas en el debate sobre el proceso llamado "globalización" y sobre sus relaciones con las tendencias actuales de las formas institucionales de dominación y en particular del moderno estado-nación. No obstante, aún si es restricta como aquí, toda discusión de esas cuestiones implica de todos modos una perspectiva teórica e histórica sobre la cuestión del poder y aquí es sin duda pertinente señalar algunos de los trazos mayores de la que orienta esta indagación.




Documents highlighting DFID's published work on globalisation and structural-adjustement programmes and their impact in urban areas.

2003 Development Planning Unit | Sikandar Hasan | Anna Soave | Khanh Tran-Thanh || Tina Simon