Urenio Watch Watch: Cities

Making Cities Work for All: Data and Actions for Inclusive Growth


Making Cities work for all: Data and Actions for Inclusive Growth is a report published by OECD in 2016. On the one hand, this report provides internationally comparable data on economic growth, inequalities and well-being at the city level in OECD countries. On the other hand, it proposes a framework for action, to help national and local governments reorient policies towards more inclusive growth in cities.

Cities are places where opportunities for prosperity coexist with stark inequalities between the richest and the poorest. Cities produce and attract highly educated workers and innovative employers. It is usually easier in cities than in other parts of the country for individuals to climb up the income, education or jobs ladder.

If it is in cities where the negative effects of inequalities are most severely felt, it is also in cities that the most innovative solutions can be deployed.

On average, cities are more income unequal than the rest of their country, except in Canada. Source: OECD.

But cities, especially the largest ones, also concentrate inequalities, both in income and in other well-being aspects,   that remain remarkably high in many OECD economies. Access to opportunities seems stalled for many low-income urban residents, who often live in distressed neighbourhoods.   This report provides empirical evidence on how cities are diverging from, or converging with, other parts of the country, and of the extent of inequality within cities. Additionally, it highlights those areas where access to opportunities has been stymied by rising inequalities and where policies can make a real difference.

Cities in 9 out of 10 countries studied have higher levels of household income inequality than their respective national average.

Table of Contents

  1. Cities as laboratories for inclusive growth
  2. Measuring well-being and inclusiveness in cities
  3. A three-dimensional measure of inclusive growth in regions
  4. Together or separated? The geography of inequality in cities
  5. Policies and partnerships for inclusive growth in cities: A framework for action

Preventing Cities from Becoming Inequality Traps

In the fifth chapter, this report presents a selection of good practices from around the world that points to five key policy areas: 1. Jobs, 2. Education and skills, 3. Housing, 4. Transport and 5. Quality services and environment. According to these areas, some recommendations for governments to take into account are the following:

  • Improve access to education, with a particular focus on disadvantaged groups and increased investment in early childhood education. Establish vocational education and training programmes that match local needs.
  • Invest in adult skills training and entrepreneurship, and encourage job creation in locally relevant industries.
  • Better target housing allowances to make access to housing fairer and promote mixed-income neighbourhoods. Reduce regulatory barriers to homebuilding.
  • Co-ordinate investment for urban housing and transport, and ensure that national and local policies for urban development support, rather than contradict, each other.
  • Provide easier access to public services such as healthcare and develop urban regeneration strategies across the board.

From design to implementation

Finally, 6 main steps are suggested in order to help cities tailor their policy instruments to local conditions towards more inclusive growth:

  1. Define indicators to monitor progress towards inclusive growth in cities;
  2. Target the right scale of policy intervention;
  3. Build strategic partnerships across levels of government and across society;
  4. Make sure that participatory processes are truly inclusive;
  5. Tap into innovative sources of financing;
  6. Use the potential of digitalisation for urban inclusion.