Journal of Economic Growth

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 35–70 | Cite as

Urbanization with and without industrialization

  • Douglas Gollin
  • Remi Jedwab
  • Dietrich Vollrath


We document a strong positive relationship between natural resource exports and urbanization in a sample of 116 developing nations over the period 1960–2010. In countries that are heavily dependent on resource exports, urbanization appears to be concentrated in “consumption cities” where the economies consist primarily of non-tradable services. These contrast with “production cities” that are more dependent on manufacturing in countries that have industrialized. Consumption cities in resource exporters also appear to perform worse along several measures of welfare. We offer a simple model of structural change that can explain the observed patterns of urbanization and the associated differences in city types. We note that although the development literature often assumes that urbanization is synonymous with industrialization, patterns differ markedly across developing countries. We discuss several possible implications for policy.


Economic development Structural change Industrial revolution  Natural resource revolution Urbanization 

JEL classification

L16 N10 N90 O18 O41 R10 



We would like to thank the editor, three anonymous referees, Nathaniel Baum-Snow, Filipe Campante, Donald Davis, Jeremiah Dittmar, Gilles Duranton, Edward Glaeser, Vernon Henderson, Berthold Herrendorf, Fabian Lange, Margaret McMillan, Markus Poschke, Andres Rodriguez-Clare, Harris Selod, Adam Storeygard, Michael Waugh, David Weil, Adrian Wood, Kei-Mu Yi and seminar audiences at Alicante, American, BREAD-World Bank Conference on Development in sub-Saharan Africa, Brown, Columbia, Durham, EEA, EBRD, Georgetown (GCER), George Washington, John Hopkins, Manchester, McGill, NBER/EFJK Growth Group, NBER SI Urban Workshop, Oxford (CSAE), Pretoria, SFSU (PACDEV), Urban Economic Association Meetings (Atlanta), U.S. Department of State, World Bank, World Bank-GWU Conference on Urbanization and Poverty Reduction, Yonsei (SED) and York. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Institute for International Economic Policy and the Elliott School of International Affairs (SOAR) at George Washington University.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (pdf 1720 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas Gollin
    • 1
  • Remi Jedwab
    • 2
  • Dietrich Vollrath
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of International DevelopmentUniversity of OxfordOxfordUnited Kingdom
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsGeorge Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of EconomicsUniversity of HoustonHoustonUSA

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