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 January 31, 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 - 7 of 7
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    The Connectivity of South Asian Cities in Infrastructure Networks
    (Taylor and Francis, 2013-11-05) Derudder, Ben ; Liu, Xingjian ; Kunaka, Charles ; Roberts, Mark
    This map summarizes information on the connectivity of 67 important South Asian cities concerning infrastructure networks. The map combines four information layers to reveal a city's overall stature in the region's infrastructure networks, i.e. rail, road, air, and information technology networks. Three dimensions of connectivity are shown: edge thickness reflecting tie strength between pairs of cities; node size reflecting a city's betweenness centrality; and node color reflecting the dominant geographical orientation of a city's connections. A threshold is used for the edges to ensure the map does not appear clogged. The map shows that major connections tend to be within-country linkages between large cities. There are five communities in South Asia's urban infrastructure networks, which largely follow national borders. Delhi, Mumbai, Lahore, Karachi, Chennai, Colombo and Dhaka are shown to be important nodes for the infrastructural integration of South Asia, as these cities mediate flows between relatively unconnected communities and cities.
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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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    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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    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.
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    Definition Matters: Metropolitan Areas and Agglomeration Economies in a Large Developing Country
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-11) 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. This paper aims to fill this gap. The paper focuses on Indonesia and makes 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. The analysis finds 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, the paper shows that the estimated size of the agglomeration wage premium depends nontrivially on the approach used to define metropolitan areas.
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    Transport Corridors and Their Wider Economic Benefits: A Critical Review of the Literature
    (World Bank, Washington, DC, 2018-01) Roberts, Mark ; Melecky, Martin ; Bougna, Theophile ; Xu, Yan Sarah
    Transport corridors can generate wider economic benefits and costs through their effects on a potentially diverse set of development outcomes, such as economic growth, poverty, jobs, equity, environmental quality, and economic resilience. To advance understanding of how corridors could generate wider economic benefits, this paper undertakes a quantitative review of the literature that estimates the economic benefits of large transport infrastructure projects. It conducts a meta-analysis of 234 estimated impacts found in 78 studies. It focuses on roads, rails, and waterways because transport corridors based on these modes have clearer potential for economic spillovers than, for example, airline routes. The conceptual structure for the review is guided by a simple canonical model describing the policy maker's problem in maximizing the net wider economic benefits of corridors. The meta-analysis confirms that characteristics of individual studies, as well as the placement and design of the transport infrastructures systematically influence the findings of the corridor studies. It also shows that, on average, estimated impacts of corridor interventions on economic welfare and equity tend to be beneficial, while they are often detrimental for environmental quality, and possibly also for social inclusion. Because, around this average, impacts vary widely, policy makers could use complementary policies and institutions to mitigate potential trade-offs and support losers. To clarify the nature and extent of these trade-offs and varied impacts across locales and population groups, much more research is required.