A new book, “Infrastructure Policy and Inequality” by Michael A. Cohen, Professor of International Affairs and Founding Director of GPIA, The New School, will be out next month. The book reframes the purpose of infrastructure from being an input to economic growth to becoming a major instrument in reducing socio-economic inequalities in both industrialized and developing countries. 

Per Michael, this book surveys infrastructure policies and performance over several decades, drawing on global and national lessons of COVID-19 and extensive working experience in 55 countries. “It reviews the World Bank’s experience launching a 30-year program to alleviate urban poverty through 7,000 projects. It shows that many significant policy changes have improved global urban policies adopted by national and local governments, yet they have failed to significantly address and reduce intra-urban inequalities.”

It suggests that the “underperformance” of infrastructure could be improved by paying more attention to users and the demand side, thereby contributing to overcoming many obstacles facing low-income communities worldwide. 

Infrastructure Policy and Inequality” argues that growth is not a necessary condition for sustainability or social justice and that both are undermined by structural inequalities that reduce the income and opportunities of urban households. More focus on user needs can substantially change the distribution of benefits and the quality of living conditions of low-income people. It provides a unique theoretical and on-the-ground critique of conventional infrastructure practices.

“More infrastructure is not enough; different and better is needed,” argues Michael. 

The book will be published on April 4, 2024, by Routledge


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