Cities and Economic Inequality in Latin America
Intra-Urban Inequality in Argentina
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This book examines trends and determinants of economic inequality in cities in Latin America, the world’s most unequal region. It explores how the gap between the haves and the have nots manifests in every part of urban life – from housing to schooling to employment. It asks why some cities have higher inequality than others and what we can learn from these differences as we push back against inequality.
The book starts with reviewing the policies and forces that explain the rise and fall of inequality in Latin America since the 1990s and why progress in reducing inequality has stalled. It then focuses on Argentina’s cities and applies a set of quantitative tools to identify inequality determinants. It finds that intra-urban inequality generally mirrors national-level trends, but local idiosyncrasies related to a city’s labor market, informal employment, and social protection systems matter. The book discusses the pitfalls of privatizing public services that turned access to water in metropolitan Buenos Aires more unequal. It explores the promises and unintended consequences of slum upgrading initiatives in Buenos Aires’ Villa 20.
The book presents lessons that can inform policies and practices in the region and beyond. Developing a strategy against inequality that incorporates local features and resists the temptation to rely on the "free market" for solutions to urban problems offers a powerful opportunity. Drawing from the field of economics and social and urban policy, this book shows that the battle against inequality is not only won and lost in cities but also requires a uniquely public and urban response. As such, it will be of interest to advanced students, researchers, and policymakers across development economics, urban studies, and Latin American studies.
Table of Contents
1. Why another book on inequality? PART I: The Rise and Fall of Inequality in Latin America and Argentina 2. From neoliberalism to the pink tide, and back 3. Old and new forms of intra-urban inequality 4. How the privatization of water spurred inequality in metropolitan Buenos Aires PART II: Why Some Cities Are More Unequal: Evidence from Argentina’s Cities 5. Determinants of intra-urban inequality 6. The income sources that determine inequality in Argentina’s cities 7. A data-driven approach to assess determinants of income inequality in Argentina’s cities PART III: Closing the Gap 8. Slum upgrading in Buenos Aires – Fighting fire with fire 9. What next? Seven short reflections on inequality in Latin American cities
Lena Simet is a scholar, writer, and researcher interested in cities, urban poverty, and intra-urban inequality. She is currently a senior researcher and advocate on poverty and inequality at Human Rights Watch. She received her PhD from The New School and lives in New York City.