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Economy

Sprawl Will Cost India $1.8 Trillion Per Year by 2050

But investing in smart growth policies now can have huge economic returns, a new working paper says.
Mumbai's metro passes through a dense residential area.
Mumbai's metro passes through a dense residential area.Rajanish Kakade/AP

Indian cities, like several others around the world, are growing in a concerning manner: They’re expanding outward at a rate that outpaces their population growth, and they’re doing so haphazardly—without heed to principles of urban planning, without adequate water, electrical, waste management, or transportation infrastructure and services, and without a regard for the environment.

The price that the country stands to pay for this pattern of urbanization, if it continues, is enormous: $330 billion to $1.8 trillion every year by 2050, according to new working paper from the New Climate Economy. This is the flagship research project of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, an international initiative looking into the pathways to sustainable economic growth. For India’s GDP, that translates into a loss of 1.2 to 6.3 percent shaved off annually.