Urbanization beyond the Metropolis: Planning for a Large Number of Small Places in the Global South

Gregory F. Randolph and Chandan Deuskar

How are urban population and its growth distributed across urban settlements of different sizes? In the Global South, this is a critical planning question, yet its answer is muddled by contradictory claims in the literature and inconsistent data. Using a new dataset measuring urbanization from 1975 to 2015, we find that urban populations in the South are less concentrated in megacities than in the North—contrary to conventional wisdom. Given an explosion in the number (not simply size) of urban settlements in the South, we suggest reviving the concept of “barefoot planning” as an approach for empowering communities beyond the metropolis to shape the urbanization process