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Major World Bank report explores how to grow city economies

A shop in Changsha, China, one city examined in a new World Bank report on the economic competitiveness of cities. (BoyCatalyst /

Boosting the competitiveness of cities offers a path to ending poverty and expanding shared prosperity, the World Bank concludes in a watershed new report released today.

Competitive Cities for Jobs and Growth emphasizes that the private sector fuels the bulk of job creation in cities. The fastest growing cities carve out niches in tradable goods and services, rather than retail or public services, the report finds. Since the early 2000s, three-quarters of the world’s 750 biggest cities have outpaced the economic expansion of their national economies, the authors note.

Much of the report is built from case studies of six successful cities — Bucaramanga, Colombia; Coimbatore, India; Kigali, Rwanda; Changsha, China; Gaziantep, Turkey; and Tangier, Morocco. 

City leaders are advised to attract, retain and expand private sector firms to maximize economic potential. The most successful cities augment private sector expansion with “interventions” that range from developing human capital to providing rudimentary infrastructure, the report explains.

Two years in the making, the report was jointly authored by two divisions of the World Bank. The Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience Global Practice and the Trade and Competitiveness Global Practice of the World Bank Group collaborated on the project. Funding was provided by the World Bank’s Competitive Industries and Innovation Program.

World Bank

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