Vulnerability in informal settlements, Kigali, Rwanda. Credit: Irfan Shakil, Khulna University, Bangladesh.

This article was originally published by ELSEVIER in the journal ‘Habitat International’. Please visit the link below to view and download the full article.


The interconnections between rural and urban areas have been a major topic of discussion among scholars and policy makers for decades. While both rural and urban areas depend on each other for critical services, rural areas, especially in the developing countries, are often under-represented in policy and essential service provisions. Though widely studied from different perspectives across the globe, the academic landscape of rural-urban nexus is poorly characterized.

This study aims to characterize the field, employing bibliometric analysis. Bibliometric is applied because it allows obtaining useful quantitative overview of the evolution of an academic field. The study aims to address six important questions:

  1. How has scholarship evolved over the past three decades in this subfield of rural-urban studies?
  2. Which countries are at the forefront of knowledge production in the subfield?
  3. What are the leading productive institutions in the world?
  4. Where are scholars publishing their works?
  5. Who are the leading authors in the field?
  6. Are there any major areas where scholars have been focusing on over the last three decades?

Results show that rural-urban scholarship has grown exponentially over the studied period (1990–2018). The United States has been a major single player in publication records, productive authors, international collaboration and institutional contribution.

Further, research in the domain of rural-urban nexus can be categorized into six major clusters; 1. socioeconomic inequalities, 2. livelihood, 3. migration, 4. consumption and poverty, 5. biodiversity and conservation, and 6. connectivity and integration.

Given the dearth of contribution in the developing world, the study argued that the subfield of rural-urban scholarship is largely under the hegemony of global north scholars. Potential research areas and study weaknesses are discussed.

Baffoe, G. (2020). Rural-urban studies: A macro analyses of the scholarship terrain. Habitat International, 98,