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May 2014

This paper studies the incidence and determinants of episodes of drastic unemployment reduction, defined as swift, substantial, and sustained declines in unemployment. Forty-three episodes are identified over a period of nearly three decades in 94 rich, middle-income, and transition countries. Unemployment reductions often coincide with an acceleration of growth and an improvement in macroeconomic conditions. Episodes are much more prevalent in countries with higher levels of unemployment and, given unemployment, are more likely in countries with better regulation.

Housing matters to the livability of cities and to the productivity of their economies. The failure of cities to accommodate the housing needs of growing urban populations can be seen in the proliferation of poorly serviced, high-density informal settlements. Such settlements are not new in the history of rapidly growing cities, their persistence results as much from policies as from economics and demographic transition. Slums have attracted most of the attention on urban housing in developing countries, and the Millennium Development Goals have given prominence to their reduction.

The trend toward ever greater urbanization continues unabated across the globe. According to the United Nations, by 2025 closes to 5 billion people will live in urban areas. Many cities, especially in the developing world, are set to explode in size. Over the next decade and a half, Lagos is expected to increase its population 50 percent, to nearly 16 million. Naturally, there is an active debate on whether restricting the growth of megacities is desirable and whether doing so can make residents of those cities and their countries better off.

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Annual Report 2014-2015