Roberts, Mark

Urban, Resilience and Land Global Practice, The World Bank
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Urban economics, Urban development, Spatial economics, Regional development
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Urban, Resilience and Land Global Practice, The World Bank
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Last updated November 29, 2023
Mark Roberts is a senior urban economist with the Urban, Resilience and Land Global Practice of the World Bank, where his work currently focuses on the East Asia and Pacific region. Prior to joining the World Bank, Mark was a lecturer in spatial economics at the University of Cambridge and a fellow in economics at Murray Edwards College, a member college of the University of Cambridge. Mark has published widely in leading peer-reviewed journals on the topic of spatial economic development and is a former coeditor of the journal Spatial Economic Analysis. He is coauthor of the World Bank’s South Asia Region Flagship Report, Leveraging Urbanization in South Asia, and its Latin America and Caribbean Flagship Report, Raising the Bar for Productive Cities in Latin America and the Caribbean. He has also worked on both the Europe and Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa regions, and acts as an advisor to Bank teams working on the analysis of processes of urban and spatial development. A native of the United Kingdom, Mark holds a PhD in land economy and an MA in economics from the University of Cambridge as well as an MS in economics from Warwick University.
Citations 6 Scopus

Publication Search Results

Now showing 1 - 10 of 25
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    Estimating Urban Poverty Consistently Across Countries
    (Washington, DC : World Bank, 2022-07-12) Combes, Pierre-Philippe ; Nakamura, Shohei ; Roberts, Mark ; Stewart, Benjamin
    Global poverty monitored by the World Bank for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is reported only at the national level, lacking a breakdown between urban and rural areas. A key challenge to producing globally comparable estimates of urban poverty is the need for consistent definitions of urban areas and poverty. This note illustrates an innovative approach to integrating globally consistent urban and poverty measurements to estimate urban poverty statistics that are directly comparable across countries. Two approaches to quantifying urban, the Degree of Urbanization and the Dartboard approaches are applied in seven case countries. By combining these delineations with official household budget survey data, poverty is estimated with international poverty lines. The empirical illustrations demonstrate that the proposed approach is potentially useful to improve the monitoring of global poverty.
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    Reshaping Economic Geography : Implications for New EU Member States
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2009-04) Gill, Indermit ; Goh, Chor-ching ; Roberts, Mark
    The ongoing crisis should spur deeper European integration, rather than a return to the nationalism of the past. The World Development Report 2009, reshaping economic geography, spotlights several issues for new European Union (EU) member states. From 1950 to 1990, Eastern Europe was impermeable to the flow of goods, services and ideas from the West, and grew slowly. During the same period, gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in fourteen Western European economies grew at three times the pace of Eastern Europe. The drivers of West European growth were market economies, regional cooperation, and global economic integration. The European Economic Community, started by six Western European nations in 1957, continued to increase its membership with the ultimate aim of full economic and monetary integration. After the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991, the EU10 countries, along with Malta and Cyprus, joined the expanded European Union, an economic zone based on the principles of democracy, markets and the free mobility of goods, capital and labor. The 27country European Union has a combined population of almost 500 million people and accounts for over 30 percent of the world's GDP. But the legacy of division has meant that the EU10 countries lag considerably behind most of the other member states. While the EU10 have brought 123 million people into the European Union, they have reduced its average level of GDP per capita by an estimated 15.6 percent.
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    When the Lights Go Out: The Economic Impacts of Covid-19 on Cities Globally
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2022-09) Khan, Amjad Muhammad ; Park, Hogeun ; Roberts, Mark ; Wibisana, Putu Sanjiwacika
    This paper uses high-frequency nighttime time lights data to estimate the impacts of the Covid-19 crisis on economic activity during the first year of the pandemic for a global sample of 2,800 cities, covering a total population of 2.5 billion people. Activity is found to be negatively affected by both the spread of the virus and the imposition of nonpharmaceutical interventions, but the negative impacts of the spread are large compared to those of nonpharmaceutical interventions. Large differences in city trajectories are also observed. Cities in low- and middle-income countries faced a significantly larger overall loss of economic activity compared to those in high-income countries. Additionally, cities with higher population densities are found to be more resilient in the face of the global shock as compared to less dense ones, but this difference is only observed in low- and middle-income countries. Taken together, the findings suggest that the Covid-19 crisis gave rise to divergence in urban economic trajectories, both across and within countries.
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    On the Road to Prosperity? The Economic Geography of China’s National Expressway Network
    ( 2010-11-01) Roberts, Mark ; Deichmann, Uwe ; Fingleton, Bernard ; Shi, Tuo
    Over the past two decades, China has embarked on an ambitious program of expressway network expansion. By facilitating market integration, this program aims both to promote efficiency at the national level and to contribute to the catch-up of lagging inland regions with prosperous Eastern ones. This paper evaluates the aggregate and spatial economic impacts of China's newly constructed National Expressway Network, focussing, in particular, on its short-run impacts. To achieve this aim, the authors adopt a counterfactual approach based on the estimation and simulation of a structural "new economic geography" model. Overall, they find that aggregate Chinese real income was approximately 6 percent higher than it would have been in 2007 had the expressway network not been built. Although there is considerable heterogeneity in the results, the authors do not find evidence of a significant reduction in disparities across prefectural level regions or of a reduction in urban-rural disparities. If anything, the expressway network appears to have reinforced existing patterns of spatial inequality, although, over time, these will likely be reduced by enhanced migration.
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    Is Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa Different?
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2013-06) Henderson, J. Vernon ; Roberts, Mark ; Storeygard, Adam
    In the past dozen years, a literature has developed arguing that urbanization has unfolded differently in post-independence Sub-Saharan Africa than in the rest of the developing world, with implications for African economic growth overall. While African countries are more urbanized than other countries at comparable levels of income, it is well-recognized that total and sector gross domestic product data are of very low quality, especially in Africa. When instead viewed from the perspective of effective technology, as suggested in endogenous growth frameworks (and as proxied by educational attainment), the African urbanization experience overall matches global patterns. There are differences, however, at the sector level. Agricultural trade effects that improve farm prices deter African urbanization, while they promote urbanization elsewhere. Potential reasons include differences in land ownership institutions and the likelihood of agricultural surpluses being invested in urban production. Positive shocks to modern manufacturing spur urbanization in the rest of the developing world, but effects are dependent on the level of development. Thus many countries in Africa, with their lower level of development, do not respond to these shocks. Finally, historical indicators of the potential for good institutions promote urbanization both inside and outside Africa.
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    Hukou and Highways: The Impact of China’s Spatial Development Policies on Urbanization and Regional Inequality
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2015-06) Bosker, Maarten ; Deichmann, Uwe ; Roberts, Mark
    China has used two main spatial policies to shape its geographic patterns of development: restricted labor mobility through the Hukou residential registration system and massive infrastructure investment, notably a 96,000 kilometer national expressway network. This paper develops a structural new economic geography model to examine the impacts of these policies. Fitting the model to available data allows simulating counterfactual scenarios comparing each policy’s respective impact on regional economic development and urbanization patterns across China. The results suggest large overall economic benefits from constructing the national expressway network and abolishing the Hukou system. Yet, the spatial impacts of the two policies are very different. The construction of the national expressway network reinforced existing urbanization patterns. The initially lagging regions not connected to the network have not benefitted much from its construction. By contrast, removal of the Hukou restrictions, which Chinese policy makers are considering, would result in much more widespread welfare gains, allowing everyone to gain by moving to where he or she is most productive. Removal of the Hukou restrictions would also promote urbanization in currently lagging (inland) regions, mostly by stimulating rural to urban migration.
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    Identifying the Economic Potential of Indian Districts
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2016-04) Roberts, Mark
    Despite its rapid growth in recent decades, GDP per capita in India remains at a relatively low level by international standards, and the country continues to be marked by large subnational disparities in levels of well-being. These large disparities naturally lead to interest in India’s spatial landscape of potential for economic development. Against this backdrop, this paper presents the results of an analysis of underlying variations in economic potential across Indian districts, where economic potential is defined as the extent to which a district possesses factors that are important determinants of the ability to experience a high level of productivity. The analysis is based on a simple composite Economic Potential Index, which is constructed from variables for which robust evidence exists of their importance as determinants of local productivity. From the analysis, a picture emerges of a heterogeneous landscape of economic potential characterized by strong geographic clustering of districts. The paper also reveals particularly high levels of underperformance, relative to potential, for districts in Uttar Pradesh.
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    Density, Distance and Division : The Case of Chongqing Municipality, China
    ( 2011) Roberts, Mark ; Goh, Chor-ching
    This paper analyses the empirical relevance of the 2009 World Development Report's 3D framework for the explanation of spatial productivity disparities within Chongqing municipality's non-primary sector. In doing so, it presents evidence of a significant role for distance in determining these disparities, especially within the municipality's Southeast wing. The evidence of a role for density is more mixed, however, with findings of agglomeration economies depending on the method of estimation used. These results have important policy implications both for the municipality itself and China overall.
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    Definition Matters: Metropolitan Areas and Agglomeration Economies in a Large Developing Country
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2019-09) Bosker, Maarten ; Park, Jane ; Roberts, Mark
    A variety of approaches to delineate metropolitan areas have been developed. Systematic comparisons of these approaches in terms of the urban landscape that they generate are however few. Our paper aims to fill this gap. We focus on Indonesia and make use of the availability of data on commuting flows, remotely-sensed nighttime lights, and spatially fine-grained population, to construct metropolitan areas using the different approaches that have been developed in the literature. We find that the maps and characteristics of Indonesia’s urban landscape vary substantially depending on the approach used. Moreover, combining information on the metro areas generated by the different approaches with detailed micro-data from Indonesia’s national labor force survey, we show that the estimated size of the agglomeration wage premium depends nontrivially on the approach used to define metropolitan areas.
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    International Growth Spillovers, Geography and Infrastructure
    ( 2009-12-01) Roberts, Mark ; Deichmann, Uwe
    There is significant academic evidence that growth in one country tends to have a positive impact on growth in neighboring countries. This paper contributes to this literature by assessing whether growth spillovers tend to vary significantly across world regions and by investigating the contribution of transport and communication infrastructure in promoting neighborhood effects. The study is global, but the main interest is on Sub-Saharan Africa. The authors define neighborhoods both in geographic terms and by membership in the same regional trade association. The analysis finds significant evidence for heterogeneity in growth spillovers, which are strong between OECD countries and essentially absent in Sub-Saharan Africa. The analysis further finds strong interaction between infrastructure and being a landlocked country. This suggests that growth spillovers from regional "success stories" in Sub-Saharan Africa and other lagging world regions will depend on first strengthening the channels through which such spillovers can spread -- most importantly infrastructure endowments.