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  • Writer's pictureUrban Time

Book Launch: Cities and Economic Inequality in Latin America

Thursday, September 29th, 2022 6:30 pm to 8:00 pm (EST) Dorothy Hirshon Suite, Arnhold Hall 203 55 West 13th Street, New York NY 10011

Lena Smet, Cities and Economic Inequality in Latin America: Intra-Urban Inequality in Argentina (Routledge 2022).

Lena Smet is a scholar, writer, and researcher interested in cities, urban poverty, and intra-urban inequality. She is currently a senior researcher and advocate on poverty and inequality at Human Rights Watch. She received her PhD from The New School and lives in New York City. Her new book examines trends and determinants of economic inequality in cities in Latin America, the world’s most unequal region. It explores how the gap between the haves and the have nots manifests in every part of urban life – from housing to schooling to employment. It asks why some cities have higher inequality than others and what we can learn from these differences as we push back against inequality. The book starts with reviewing the policies and forces that explain the rise and fall of inequality in Latin America since the 1990s and why progress in reducing inequality has stalled. It then focuses on Argentina’s cities and applies a set of quantitative tools to identify inequality determinants. It finds that intra-urban inequality generally mirrors national-level trends, but local idiosyncrasies related to a city’s labor market, informal employment, and social protection systems matter. The book discusses the pitfalls of privatizing public services that turned access to water in metropolitan Buenos Aires more unequal. It explores the promises and unintended consequences of slum upgrading initiatives in Buenos Aires’ Villa 20. The book presents lessons that can inform policies and practices in the region and beyond. Developing a strategy against inequality that incorporates local features and resists the temptation to rely on the "free market" for solutions to urban problems offers a powerful opportunity. Drawing from the field of economics and social and urban policy, this book shows that the battle against inequality is not only won and lost in cities but also requires a uniquely public and urban response. As such, it will be of interest to advanced students, researchers, and policymakers across development economics, urban studies, and Latin American studies.

Welcoming Remarks Mary Watson, Executive Dean, Schools of Public Engagement

Discussants Sanjay Reddy, Chair of the Department of Economics, The New School Marcela Melendez, Chief Economist for Latin America, UNDP Marcelo Medeiros, Visiting Professor, Columbia University If you have any questions about this event, please contact Presented by Observatory on Latin America of the Julien J. Studley Graduate Program in International Affairs.


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