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  • Author: Ravi Kanbur, Dennis Rodgers, Jo Beall
  • Publication Date: 01-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This paper argues for a more systemic engagement with Latin American cities, contending it is necessary to reconsider their unity in order to nuance the 'fractured cities' perspective that has widely come to epitomise the contemporary urban moment in the region. It begins by offering an overview of regional urban development trends, before exploring how the underlying imaginary of the city has critically shifted over the past half century. Focusing in particular on the way that slums and shantytowns have been conceived, it traces how the predominant conception of the Latin American city moved from a notion of unity to a perception of fragmentation, highlighting how this had critically negative ramifications for urban development agendas, and concludes with a call for a renewed vision of Latin American urban life.
  • Topic: Development, Poverty, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Ignacio A. Navarro
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: The relationship between the cocaine trade and urban land markets in South America has been overlooked by the mainstream economics and urban studies literature. This paper examines two avenues through which the cocaine trade can have a large impact on urban development in producer countries: (i) through an employment multiplier effect similar to that of other legal exports, and (ii) through money laundering using urban real estate. We test our hypotheses using the Bolivian case and find that urban growth patterns are closely related to fluctuations in cocaine production. Further, even though our estimates suggest that the cocaine trade affects urban growth through the two avenues presented in the paper, we find that formal urban employment generated by the cocaine trade has a modest effect on urban growth and most of the effect seems to be explained by money laundering using real estate and other paths.
  • Topic: Corruption, Crime, Narcotics Trafficking, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America
  • Author: Michael Cohen
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: International narratives on Argentina's recovery from the crisis of 2001-02 tend to emphasize the role of rising commodity prices and growing demand from China. Argentina is said to have been 'lucky', saved by global demand for its agricultural exports. The international narrative has also been used by local agricultural exporters to justify their objections against higher export taxes during periods of high commodity prices. These narratives are not correct. Data on the country's recovery show that it was not led by agricultural exports but was fuelled by urban demand and production. When the Convertibility period ended and the peso was devalued in 2002, price increases for imports stimulated the production of domestic goods and services for consumers. This production in turn generated multiplier effects which supported small and medium-sized firms and helped to create many new jobs. This later produced a revival of the construction and then the manufacturing sectors as well.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Economics, International Trade and Finance, Markets, Financial Crisis
  • Political Geography: China, Argentina, Latin America
  • Author: Lissette Aliaga Linares
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Unlike in most Latin American cities, street vendors organized in farmers' markets popularly known as ferias libres in Santiago de Chile, gained legal recognition early in the twentieth century. Since then, comunas, or local municipalities, have provided vendors with individual licenses that stipulate the place and time of operations, and have defined a clear set of rules regarding customer service. However, this early legal recognition has not necessarily overcome the embedded conflict over the economic use of public space. As supermarkets become spatially positioned along the main streets within easy access of the city's transportation system, feriantes, or licensed street vendors, are being relocated in less profitable areas. Moreover, coleros, or unlicensed vendors, are still flourishing despite efforts to restrict their numbers.
  • Topic: Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Chile
  • Author: Eduardo Lora, Andrew Powell
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: A growing number of cities around the world have established systems of monitoring the quality of urban life. Many of those systems combine objective and subjective information and attempt to cover a wide variety of topics. This paper introduces a simple method that takes advantage of both types of information and provides criteria to identify and rank the issues of potential importance for urban dwellers. The method combines the so-called 'hedonic price' and 'life satisfaction' approaches to value public goods. Pilot case results for six Latin American cities are summarized and policy applications are discussed.
  • Topic: Economics, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Lucy Earle
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: This study focuses on the city of São Paulo, Brazil and examines the ways in which irregular and illegal growth have influenced the collective action of social movements of the urban poor. The study describes how São Paulo grew as a socially segregated city during the twentieth century due to calculated neglect on the part of the municipal authorities. Highlighting the city's sociospatial inequality, degradation of the central districts and widespread irregularity, it illustrates how these factors have both negatively affected the urban poor and provided a catalyst for social mobilization.
  • Topic: Poverty, Social Stratification, Social Movement, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: South America, Latin America
  • Author: Dennis Rodgers
  • Publication Date: 03-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Many commentators have noted the existence of a historical correlation between cities and democratization. This image of the city as an inherently civic space is linked to the notion that the spatial concentration intrinsic to urban contexts promotes a democracy of proximity. Seen from this perspective, it is perhaps not surprising that the most urbanized region of the global south, Latin America, is also a heartland of vibrant and much applauded democratic innovation. Of particular note are the myriad local level 'radical democracy' initiatives that have proliferated throughout the region's cities during the past two decades. At the same time, however, it is a significant paradox that Latin American urban centres are also amongst the most segregated in the world, something that is widely considered to have a significantly fragmenting effect on public space, and is therefore undermining of democracy.
  • Topic: Democratization, Social Stratification, Sociology, Urbanization
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Author: Céline Ferré*
  • Publication Date: 04-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: During the twentieth century, internal migration and urbanization shaped Brazil's economic and social landscape. Cities grew tremendously, while immigration participated in the rapid urbanization process and the redistribution of poverty between rural and urban areas. In 1950, about a third of Brazil's population lived in cities; this figure grew to approximately 80 per cent by the end of the nineteenth century. The Brazilian population redistributed unevenly—some dynamic regions became population magnets, and some neighbourhoods within cities became gateway clusters in which the effects of immigration proved particularly salient. This study asks, has domestic migration to cities been part of a healthy process of economic transition and mobility for the country and its households? Or has it been a perverse trap?
  • Topic: Demographics, Migration, Immigration
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Brazil, Latin America
  • Author: T.H. Gindling, Katherine Terrell
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: To be competitive in the global economy, some argue that Latin American countries need to reduce or eliminate labour market regulations such as minimum wage legislation because they constrain job creation and hence increase poverty. On the other hand, minimum wage increases can have a direct positive impact on family income and may therefore help to reduce poverty. We take advantage of a complex minimum wage system in a poor country that has been exposed to the forces of globalization to test whether minimum wages are an effective poverty reduction tool in this environment. We find the net effect of minimum wage increases in Honduras is the reduction of extreme poverty, with an elasticity of -0.18, and all poverty, with an elasticity of -0.10 (using the national poverty lines). These results are driven entirely by the effect on workers in large private sector firms, where minimum wage legislation is enforced. Increases in the minimum do not affect the incidence of poverty among workers in sectors where minimum wages are not enforced (small firms) or do not apply (self-employed and public sector). Hence, we show that minimum wages can be used as a poverty reduction tool in the formal sector. However, we do not endorse minimum wages as the best tool as we have not carried out a complete cost-benefit analysis of this policy vis-à-vis others.
  • Topic: Poverty
  • Political Geography: Latin America, Central America, Honduras
  • Author: Marc-Andreas Muendler, Jennifer Pamela Poole, Ernesto Aguayo-Tellez
  • Publication Date: 03-2008
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: United Nations University
  • Abstract: Comprehensive linked employer{employee data allow us to study the relationship between domestic formal sector migration in Brazil and globalization. Considerable worker flows in the formal labor market between 1997 and 2001 are directed toward lower income regions|the reverse flows of those often posited for informal labor markets. Estimation of the worker's multi-choice migration problem shows that previously unobserved employer covariates are significant predictors associated with migration flows. These results support the idea that globalization acts on internal migration through job stability at exporting establishments and employment opportunities at locations with a concentration of foreign owned establishments. A 1% increase in exporter employment predicts a 0.3% reduced probability of migration. A 1% increase in the concentration of foreign owned establishments at potential destinations is associated with a 0.2% increase in the migration rate.
  • Topic: Economics, Globalization, Markets, Migration, Labor Issues
  • Political Geography: Latin America