Book summary: Urban poverty in the global South − scale and nature

Article, 25 May 2021

In this book Diana Mitlin and David Satterthwaite offer a comprehensive analysis on the state of urban poverty in the global South, analysing aspects such as inadequate nutrition, poor health, lack of security, low incomes and bad working conditions.

Urban Poverty in the Global South Scale and Nature

Urban poverty in the global South: scale and nature

Diana Mitlin and David Satterthwaite
Routledge, 2012 – Book, 368 pages
Urban Poverty in the Global South: Scale and Nature

One in seven of the world’s population live in poverty in urban centres, and the majority of them live in the global South – mostly in overcrowded informal settlements with inadequate essential services such as water, sanitation, health care and schools provision.

Many official figures on urban poverty, including those based on the US$1 per day poverty line, present a misleading picture of the scale of urban poverty. These common errors in definition and measurement by governments and international agencies lead to poor understanding of urban poverty and inadequate policy provision. This is compounded by the lack of voice and influence that low income groups have in these official spheres.

Urban poverty in the global South: scale and nature’ explains how and why the scale and depth of urban poverty is so often underestimated by governments and international agencies worldwide. In addition, Mitlin and Satterthwaite contemplate if growth can reduce poverty, shining a light on the paradox of successful economies that show little evidence of decreasing poverty.

Through the analysis of a range of characteristics of urban poverty like the associated health burden, inadequate food intake, low incomes, lack of security or poor living and working conditions, the authors aim to fill a gap for a much needed systematic overview of the historical and contemporary state of urban poverty in the global South.

In this blog which draws on their co-authored book, Mitlin and Satterthwaite examine the deprivations that cause or contribute to urban poverty.


Urban poverty in the global South: scale and nature, by Diana Mitlin and David Satterthwaite, available to purchase from Routledge, 368 pages, hardback (ISBN: 9780415624671).

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