Home Economy Slums, sprawl, and skyscrapers

Slums, sprawl, and skyscrapers


These three words are probably the most used in popular and policy discussions of city development. The squalor of slums, unsustainability of sprawl and sterility of skyscrapers are the proverbial Achilles heel of community leaders and urban planners. They call for livable neighborhoods with a vibrant mix of homes, shops, offices, and local amenities.

In a recent report, “Pancakes to Pyramids: City Form to Promote Sustainable Growth,” we examine how cities across the world have grown over the past quarter century and explain why some are stuck with slums, while others have expanded and some have built impressive skylines. Our priors have been shaped by our experiences living in cities, and we set out to examine if empirical regularities were consistent with these priors.

3 priors, 1 question

One of us recalls riding Mumbai’s crowded suburban rails during the early 1990s, passing the large slums of Dharavi where people lived cheek by jowl…

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