Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Photo: Tran Viet Duc / World Bank
4th Urbanization and Poverty Reduction Research Conference
September 8, 2017Building Cities for Growth

This conference hosted by the World Bank, George Washington University (Institute for International Economic Policy) and the International Growth Center Cities Program brings together academics and development practitioners to present and discuss the challenges of sustainable urban planning in developing countries.

One of the great challenge of 21st century cities in developing countries is that they must fulfill the requirements of connectivity in production for businesses and address the negative externalities for consumers of density with extremely limited financial resources and public capacity. This raises the following questions: What national policies strengthen and weaken developing world cities, and what infrastructure investments deliver the largest growth benefits? In particular, the aim of this conference will be to reflect upon whether cities in developing countries should focus their efforts on improving their land and housing sector (see Session 1: Land), their transportation networks (see Session 2: Transportation) or their sanitation infrastructure (see Session 3: Public Services). In other words, how can we build, or rebuild, cities in the future in order to promote economic growth and reduce poverty?

The 3rd Urbanization and Poverty Reduction Research Conference took place on 1 February 2016. You can find the program of the conference here.

The 2nd Urbanization and Poverty Reduction Research Conference took place on 12 November 2014. You can find the program of the conference here.

The 1st Urbanization and Poverty Reduction Research Conference took place on 13 May 2013. You can find the program of the conference here.

Conference Organizers

Harris Selod, The World Bank

Rémi Jedwab, George Washington University

Edward Glaeser, Harvard University and International Growth Center


For any inquiries regarding the event, please contact Elaine Wylie at


September 8, 2017
08:30-9.00 Coffee and Registration  


Welcoming Remarks: TBD





Edward Glaeser, Professor of Economics, Harvard and IGC

Paul Romer, Chief Economist and Vice-President, The World Bank

10:45-11:00 Coffee Break
11:00 -12:30


Mini keynote: TBD

Paper 1.1 TBD

Paper 1.2 TBD



12:30-13:30 Lunch


Paul Romer, Chief Economist and Vice-President, The World Bank


14:15 -15:45 


Mini keynote: TBD

Paper 2.1 TBD

Paper 2.2 TBD



15:45-16:00  Coffee Break


Mini keynote: TBD

Paper 3.1 TBD

Paper 3.2 TBD



18:00-19:30   COCKTAIL RECEPTION and welcome speech by Maggie Chen (George Washington University). 

At George Washington University, Lindner Commons Room (6th Floor) of the Elliott School of International Affairs, 1957 E St. N.W. (at the intersection of E and 19th Streets, on E Street), Washington, DC
(5 minutes by walk, map here)

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    Harris Selod

    Senior Economist, The World Bank
    Harris Selod is a Senior Economist with the Development Research Group of the World Bank. His current research focuses on urban development, including issues related to transport and land use, as well as land tenure, land markets and the political economy of the land sector in developing countries, with a specific interest in West Africa. His publications cover a variety of topics in urban and public economics including theories of squatting and residential informality, the political economy of transport infrastructure, the effects of residential segregation on schooling and unemployment, or the impact of land rights formalization and place-based policies. He has been chair of the World Bank’s Land Policy and Administration Thematic Group (2011-2013) and is currently leading a World Bank research program on transport. Prior to joining the World Bank in 2007, he was an associate professor at the Paris School of Economics and a researcher at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA). He holds a Ph.D. in economics from the University of Paris Panthéon-Sorbonne and graduated from the Ecole Nationale de la Statistique et de l’Administration Economique (ENSAE).
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    Rémi Jedwab

    Assistant Professor of Economics, George Washington University
    Rémi Jedwab is an assistant professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Elliott School and the Department of Economics of George Washington University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from the Paris School of Economics. He was also a visiting Ph.D. student at the London School of Economics for three years. Professor Jedwab's main field of research is urban economics, though his work also has strong development economics, economic history, trade, environmental economics and public economics themes. Some of the issues he has studied include urbanization and structural transformation, the economic effects of transportation infrastructure, and agricultural and economic development in the developing world, and Sub‐Saharan Africa in particular. His research has been published in the American Economic Review, the Review of Economics and Statistics, the Economic Journal, the Journal of Economic Growth and the Journal of Urban Economics. Recently, Professor Jedwab’s research areas have included the phenomenon of urbanization without economic growth, and his research has been highlighted by The Atlantic's CityLab and the Boston Globe.
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    Edward Glaeser

    Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, Harvard
    Edward Glaeser is the Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics at Harvard, where he also serves as Director of the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston. He studies the economics of cities, and has written scores of articles on urban issues, including the growth of cities, segregation, crime, and housing markets. He has been particularly interested in the role that geographic proximity can play in creating knowledge and innovation. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1992 and has been at Harvard since then.
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    Paul Romer

    NYU Marron Institute, University Professor, NYU Director of the Marron Institute
    Dr. Paul Romer took office as the World Bank’s Chief Economist and Senior Vice President in October, 2016. Romer is on leave from his position as University Professor at New York University. His initial interest in technological progress led to research on topics ranging from an abstract analysis of how the economics of ideas differs from the economics of objects to practical suggestions about how to improve science and technology policy. More recently, his research on catch-up growth in low- and middle-income countries has emphasized the importance of government policies that encourage orderly urban expansion. Before NYU, Romer taught at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business, and while there, also started Aplia, an education technology company dedicated to increasing student effort. Romer has also variously taught economics at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Chicago, and the University of Rochester.

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    Maggie Chen

    Professor of Economics, George Washington University, and International Institute for Economic Policy
    Maggie Xiaoyang Chen is the Director of the Institute for International Economic Policy and Professor of Economics and International Affairs at George Washington University. Professor Chen's areas of research expertise include foreign direct investment, international trade, and regional trade agreements and her work has been published extensively in academic journals. She has worked as an economist in the research department of the World Bank, a consultant for various divisions of the World Bank and the International Finance Cooperation, and a trade policy advisor at the U.S. congressional Budget Office leading policy analyses on the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. She has also held visiting professor positions in various universities including Boston College and University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, China and is a co-editor of the Economic Inquiry. Professor Chen received her Ph.D. and M.A. in Economics from the University of Colorado at Boulder and her B.A. in Economics from Beijing Normal University.

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    Gilles Duranton

    Professor of Real Estate, Wharton School
    Gilles Duranton is professor of real estate and holds the Dean’s Chair in Real Estate. He joined the Wharton School in 2012 after holding academic positions at the University of Toronto and the London School of Economics. A graduate from HEC Paris and Sorbonne University, he obtained his PhD in economics jointly from the London School of Economics and the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Science Sociales in Paris. His research focuses on urban and transportation issues. His empirical work is concerned with urban growth and the estimation of the costs and benefits of cities and clusters. He is also interested in the effects of transportation infrastructure on urban development and the evaluation of local policies. He also conducts theoretical research to gain insight about the distribution of city sizes, the skill composition, and sectoral patterns of activities in cities.
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    Anthony Venables

    Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford and Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies
    Tony Venables CBE is Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford where he also directs the Centre for the Analysis of Resource Rich Economies and a programme of research on urbanisation in developing economies. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and of the Econometric Society. Former positions include Chief Economist at the UK Department for International Development, professor at the London School of Economics, research manager of the trade research group in the World Bank, and advisor to the UK Treasury. He has published extensively in the areas of international trade, spatial economics, and natural resources, including work on trade and imperfect competition, economic integration, multinational firms, and economic geography.

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    Alain Bertaud

    Adjunct Professor, Marron Institute
    Alain Bertaud is an Adjunct Professor at the Marron Institute and a senior research scholar at the NYU Stern Urbanization Project. At the moment, he is writing a book about urban planning that is tentatively titled Order Without Design. Bertaud previously held the position of principal urban planner at the World Bank. After retiring from the Bank in 1999, he worked as an independent consultant. Prior to joining the World Bank he worked as a resident urban planner in a number of cities around the world: Bangkok, San Salvador (El Salvador), Port au Prince (Haiti), Sana’a (Yemen), New York, Paris, Tlemcen (Algeria), and Chandigarh (India).
  • About the Venue
    The conference will be held at the World Bank's Headquarters, located at 1818 H Street, NW, Washington DC 20433, USA.
  • The North Lobby entrance to the World Bank is located on H St, NW, near the intersection of 18th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • The cocktail reception will take place at the Elliott School of International Affairs, 1957 E Street at the intersection of E and 19th Streets (Lindner Common Rooms, 6th Floor) - GWU (George Washington University). The link below will show you how to get from the World Bank MC building to 1957 E Street.

Event Details
  • Date: September 8, 2017
  • Location: Preston Auditorium, the World Bank, 1818 H Street, N.W., 20433 Washington D.C.
  • Registration: Opening son