Dimensions of Urban Poverty in the Europe and Central Asia Region

Are poverty indicators in secondary cities worse than those in the capitals?
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This World Bank study aims at understanding urban poverty in Europe and Central Asia (ECA) with focus on dimensions of poverty related to network infrastructure and energy services in cities, particularly bringing out disparities between the capital and secondary cities. Wherever relevant, the study makes comparisons with rural areas. It uses the available survey data to systematically develop a regional profile of these dimensions.

Based on the hypotheses being tested, the analysis lists the following findings:

  • The households in urban areas in secondary cities are substantially worse off than in the capital cities.
  • The secondary cities have poverty indicators equivalent to, or worse than, those of rural areas, including in terms of access and quality (reliability) of infrastructure.
  • The study results confirm that many households, especially in secondary cities, are infrastructure poor because of unreliable and deteriorated services.
  • The income and infrastructure inequality are generally higher in urban areas. However, inequality is not consistently highest in capital cities, but is often greater in secondary than that in the capital cities.

The analysis attributes the results to:

  • Incomplete structural reform and liberalization in the ECA countries in their transition from centralized planning to market forces led development.
  • Fragmentation of many countries, and the decline in the primary and secondary sectors, which the increase in services was inadequate to make up for.

The report concludes that the study findings concerning secondary cities, the emergence of slums and problems of mobility have implications for broader strategy formulation in ECA countries.