Some conceptual and methodological issues in studying urbanization in Southeast Asia

Authored by: Gavin W. Jones

Routledge Handbook of Urbanization in Southeast Asia

Print publication date:  October  2018
Online publication date:  October  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138681590
eBook ISBN: 9781315562889
Adobe ISBN:


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The best known source of data on world urbanization patterns (United Nations 2018) indicates that 47% of the population of Southeast Asia lived in urban areas in 2015. This is fairly low by world standards, and (except for Singapore) it ranged from 22% in Cambodia to 46% in the Philippines 1 and 53% in Indonesia through to 74% in Malaysia. However, in presenting these comparative statistics on urban populations, the UN is forced to accept the definitions of urban areas used in each of its member countries. These differ widely and can give very misleading results (Jones 2004: 115–119; Alkema, Jones and Lai 2014), even more so when urban agglomerations are compared than when urban areas in general are compared.

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