Pakistan Urban Sector Assessment

A man on a donkey-pulled cart transports an auto-rickshaw for repair in Lahore, Pakistan

Project Summary

RAND is examining the trends and implications of rapid urbanization in Pakistan.


Pakistan is one of the most rapidly urbanizing countries in South Asia. How the country manages its urban growth will be vital for the quality of life of its people and the role that cities can play in the country's economic growth and poverty alleviation. This report provides an overview and new information on patterns of urban population growth in Pakistan currently, and into the future, to characterize the economic size, connectivity, and economic growth of cities in Pakistan. The report also touches on issues of finance, governance, and service delivery that affect both economic productivity and the quality of life in Pakistan's cities.


Pakistan lacks reliable sub-national income or product accounts, making it very difficult to understand where economic growth is happening within the country. Further, the last population census took place more than 15 years ago, so there is a lack of accurate recent data on levels of urbanization. The report provides new estimates of population growth in Pakistan's provinces and cities as well as estimates of economic growth by province and city, making use of satellite data on night-time lights as a measure of economic activity and urban expansion in the absence of official data.

Using a variety of data sources, including household surveys and the Census of Manufacturing Industries, among others, the study also identifies centers of rapid manufacturing growth, areas of high productivity, rates of migration to different cities, and variation in education, poverty and employment across urban areas.

Also examined are constraints on growth including provision of urban services, levels of skills, the size of the informal sector, governance and fiscal resources, and security issues.


The analysis leads to recommendations for policies to enhance productivity and economic growth in urban areas.


World Bank