Urbanization Rate

Rethinking the country-level percentage of population residing in urban area with a global harmonized urban definition

The UN (United Nations) collects global data on the country-level Percentage of Population Residing in Urban Area (PPRUA). However, variations in urban definitions make these data incomparable across countries. This study assesses national defined PPRUA within UN statistics against estimates we derived using global comparable definitions. Refer to the UN’s Degree of Urbanization framework, we propose 90 global harmonized methods for estimating PPRUA by combining different configurations of three global population datasets, six urban total population thresholds, and five urban population density thresholds. This approach demonstrated significant variations in country-level PPRUA estimations, with wide 95% confidence intervals using the Z score method. Most national defined PPRUA fall between the upper 95% CI and the median of the estimations, underscoring the need for globally harmonious PPRUA estimates. This study advocates for a reassessment of datasets and thresholds in the future and for investigating urbanization on a scale beyond the country level.
Li et al 2024 iScience_UrbanizationRate.
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The data and the model associated with this article is available online at Mendeley Data.