Spatio-Temporal Dynamics of Urban Growth in Latin American Cities: An Analysis Using Nighttime Lights Imagery


  • Policy Research Working Paper Series


  • The impact of urban form on economic performance and quality of life has been extensively recognized. The studies on urban form have focused in developed countries; only a few cities in developing countries have been studied. This paper utilizes nighttime lights imagery and information on street networks, automatically retrieved from OpenStreetMap, to calculate a series of spatial metrics that capture different aspects of the urban form of 919 Latin American and Caribbean cities. The paper classifies these cities into clusters according to these spatial metrics. It also studies the relationship between the urban form metrics and some factors that can correlate with urban form (topography, size, colony, and economic performance) and performs a spatio-temporal analysis of urban growth from 1996 to 2010. Among the results, the paper highlights the identification of five typologies of cities, the tendency of a group of cities to grow at a steeper slope, some worrying cases of urban growth over protected areas, and a trend toward increasing sprawl in some Latin American and Caribbean cities.

fecha de publicación

  • 2019-01

Líneas de investigación

  • City to City Alliances
  • National Urban Development
  • Urban Economic Development
  • Urban Economics


  • 8702