The Mega-Cities Coordinator in Paris studied business administration and economics at the University of Paris and at Harvard University, and obtained his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Paris in 1963. He has taught at the Universities of Phnom-Penh in Cambodia, at M.I.T., where he was a visiting professor in 1982-83 and in 1988, and at Lille (France), Paris XII, where he is currently. From 1974 to 1976, he was Deputy-Director of the Environment Directorate of the OECD. He has also worked as a consultant to the World Bank, UNESCO, UNCHS, the EEC and various governments.
He has worked and written on a number of policy issues—urban, regional, financial, environmental, transportation, and industrial—and on a number of countries, including France, the U.S.A., Japan, Greece, Cambodia, Brazil, Korea, Tunisia, Turkey, and China. His books include: The Economy of Cambodia (1968), Urban Economic Accounts (1974), Environmental Policies in Japan (1977), The Management of Nature (1980), Urban Transportation and Economic Development in Brazil (1983), The Future of the Automobile (1984), Financing Public Investments (1986), Regional Policies in Turkey (1988), Public Finance With Several Levels of Government (1990), and Urban Transport in Developing Countries: New Perceptions and New Policies (1990).
The Mega-Cities Host Institution is a university-based group of six researchers involved in four main policy areas: public finance, transportation, regional, and environmental. The strength of the Host Institution lies in the experience and multidisciplinary qualifications of its members—three economists, one specializing in regional economic policy, another in environmental policy, and the last in local public finance and transport; two architects/city planners, one specializing in geographical issues and the other in transportation; and a geographer/city planner specializing in local public finance. These individuals also advise a dozen doctoral students who are part of the team and work on topics directly related to their research.
Most of the group's members are faculty members of the University of Paris XII and serve as research contacts between the University and different public agencies. To facilitate the development of their activities, the group has established a partnership with public and private agencies. Lastly, the members can and do undertake short-term consultant work for such organizations as the World Bank, OECD, EEC, UNESCO, and UNCHS. All of these approaches enable them to operate with great flexibility and at a low cost.
The French capital of Paris is located in the north-central part of the country on both sides of the Seine River. A city over 2000 years old, it was founded on an island, the modern Ile de la Cite. Paris is the political, commercial, industrial, cultural, and social center of France and one of the main tourist destinations in Europe.
The administrative region, known as "Ile-de-France" or the Paris Metropolitan Area, contains eight sections: the city of Paris, Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint Denis, Val de Marne (these three départements together forming the petite couronne), Yvelines, Essonnes, Val d'Oise and Seine-et-Marne.
Annual net income per capita (before national taxes on income but after social security prelevement) is 163,300F for the Ile-de-France, as compared with 116,200F for the rest of France.
The employment rate in the Ile-de-France is 62.1% (68.3% among men and 54.5% among women). France as a whole has an employment rate of 54.8% (62.7% among men and 47.6% among women).
Health and the Environment
Infant mortality (under 1 year) in the Ile-de-France is 7.6 per 1,000, as compared to the French average of 7.3 per 1,000.
Life expectancy in the Ile-de-France is 73.2 years for men and 80.9 years for women. The French average is 72.6 years for men and 80.9 years for women.
Infrastructure and Social Services
Waste disposal—Methods of waste disposal include incineration, landfill usage, and recycling. Although recycling currently accounts for 3% of total waste weight, the political objective is 15% by 2002.
Water—Water is supplied mainly through surface resources.
Education—Adult literacy is 99%. High school enrollment rates are 89% in the Ile-de-France and 87% in France. University enrollment rates are 36% in the Ile-de-France and 32% in France.
Paris is more than ever the economic center of France. Its economic efficiency is much higher than any other French city, with an average salary 40% higher than in the rest of France. Its economic efficiency measure of the level of productivity is higher than that of London. The constant effort toward transportation investment such as the highways or the new super RER, combined with the urban planning orientation to conserve a dense and compact city, have played key roles in giving Paris this economic advantage.
The future might be different. Part of Paris' productivity is due to sectors related to military industry. The announced reduction of military public expenditure will have an economic impact. The ability of Paris to create new enterprises is higher than in the rest of France but lower than in London or in US cities, due to administrative rules. A competitive sector will have to be found.
The efficient and preferred public transportation system will have to be considered in the context of an increasing sprawling tendency of the urban pattern. Given its size, Paris is probably the city that has most resisted urban sprawl. The presence of good education in the center of the city is, along with political willingness, an important explanation factor. But the American model of suburban individual housing urban development has started. Peripheral "départements" and areas outside Ile-de-France boundaries have the most important demographic dynamism.
The cost of the new urbanization, the under use of existed infrastructure in the center, and the advantage of the car over public transport in less dense areas are questions that may take on more importance in Paris' future.
Paris belongs to a country with a high unemployment rate. Social fracture due to unemployment crowds the headlines of the newspapers. The "revolt" of the unemployed asking for higher social revenue puts a concrete perspective on the abstractly analyzed economic and political problem of unemployment. More than 12% of the active population has been affected, or 11% in the Paris region. In correlation, poverty, social exclusion, and urban violence are increasing in Paris, but such is the case in any French city. The megacity status of Paris does not appear to be the sole explanation. The increasing gap between high and low wages, for example, does not appear to correlate to city size; the dynamic is the same in Paris, Marseille, Lille, Lyon, and Rouen. Trying to find some spatial solution through city policy or suburban area policy to a social problem is probably misguided.
Environmental problems are beginning to be taken more seriously, as recent studies have shown the effects of air pollution on health. The unexpected success of an alternative circulation day in September showed that the Parisians might be ready for such solutions. But the occurrence of a peak of pollution in the middle of August, a period when the car traffic is reduced by 40%, also showed that car circulation is not the only factor of air pollution and underlined the gravity of the phenomenon. Peaks of pollution have also been reached in some medium-sized public transportation-orientated cities like Strasbourg.
The Mega-Cities Project is a non-profit organization with 501(c)(3) tax status.
Founder and President: Janice Perlman, PhD. Information: email@example.com
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