Central Asia in 3D

Vinokurov E.

World Bank, Eurasian Development Bank

A billion slum dwellers in the developing world's cities; a billion living within countries' fragile, lagging areas; a billion in nations at the bottom of the global hierarchy - these are the biggest development challenges. Concern for these overlapping populations sometimes leads to policies to make economic growth more spatially balanced. World Development Report 2009, Reshaping Economic Geography, has a different message: economic growth is seldom balanced. Efforts to spread it prematurely will jeopardize progress.

Central Asia comprises five landlocked developing countries - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan - with limited access to world markets. Their combined economies are about $146 billion, dominated by Kazakhstan's petroleum-driven economy of $104 billion. Their geography poses special economic challenges.

Reshaping Economic Geography analyzes the role of regional integration through common institutions, connective infrastructure, and targeted interventions to offset the adverse economic effects of unfavorable human, physical, and political geography. It discusses how to tailor policies on urbanization, territorial development, and regional integration to the dimensions of economic geography - density, distance, and division within a country and a region - to foster growth.

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