Poverty reduction during the rural-urban transformation - The role of the missing middle

Luc Christiaensen, Yasuyuki Todo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

126 Citations (Scopus)


As countries develop, they restructure away from agriculture and urbanize. But structural transformation and urbanization patterns differ substantially, with some countries fostering migration out of agriculture into rural off farm activities and secondary towns, and others undergoing rapid agglomeration in mega cities. Using cross-country panel data for developing countries spanning 1980-2004, it is found that migration out of agriculture into the missing middle (rural nonfarm economy and secondary towns) yields more inclusive growth patterns and faster poverty reduction than agglomeration in mega cities. This suggests that patterns of urbanization deserve much more attention when striving for faster poverty reduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-58
Number of pages16
JournalWorld Development
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Nov
Externally publishedYes


  • Poverty
  • Rural nonfarm economy
  • Rural-urban transformation
  • Structural transformation
  • Urban concentration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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