Challenges & Opportunities of Urbanization

Challenges & Opportunities of Urbanization, 2017-2021


Photo by Nathan Queloz on Unsplash

Why do some urban communities provide secure environments, good education, adequate health care, and other factors that promote human development, while others fail to do so? What determines whether or not decision-making is transparent, leaders are accountable, and citizens enjoy good governance? These questions are key for policy makers, development specialists, and others who seek to improve the lives of millions who suffer from violence, poor education, unattended illnesses, and lost opportunities at the hands of corrupt leaders.

The information generated from research on urbanization thus far tends to consider urban areas as monolithic, but we observe great variation in service provision including health, education, and security, as well as citizen-state linkages among communities within the same city across the developing world. We need to identify where these disparities exist and to understand their root causes. This requires a research approach that takes local governance and micro-level variations into account. Employing highly clustered, large N surveys (~25,000 respondents in total) that are representative at the local level, this study aims to explain the local variation in governance and service provision in the context of three urbanizing African countries: Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia. With Ellen Lust (PI), Adam Harris, Boniface Dulani, Pierre Landry.

Funded by: Forskningsrådet Formas

Status: Completed.

Related Publications:

Kao, Kristen. With Ellen Lust. “Do List Experiments Run as Expected? Examining Implementation Failure in Kenya, Zambia, and Malawi.” Draft available upon request. Presented at the European Political Science Association 2021.

Kao, Kristen. with Carlitz, Ruth; Landry, Pierre; Lust, Ellen, and Lise Rakner. 2017. “Beyond the State: Measuring Governance at the Community Level.” APSA Comparative Democratization Newsletter. 17(2): 26–29. Available here.

Related Panels:

Organized Panel: “The State and Traditional Governance Nexus: Empirical Evidence from Africa,” APSA, September 28 2021. Participants: Kate Baldwin, Ellen Lust, Lauren MacLean, Peter Van der Windt, Martha Wilfahrt, Natalie Letsa, Soeren Henn, George Ofosu, and Sarah Brierley.