Informal urban land expansion is produced through a diversity of social and political transactions, yet ‘pixelizable’ data capturing these transactions is commonly unavailable. Understanding informal urbanization entails differentiating spatial patterns of informal settlement from formal growth, associating such patterns with the social transactions that produce them, and evaluating the social and environmental outcomes of distinct settlement types. Demonstrating causality between distinct urban spatial patterns and social-institutional processes requires both high-resolution spatial temporal time-series data of urban change and insights into social transactions giving rise to these patterns. We demonstrate an example of linking distinct spatial patterns of informal urban expansion to the institutional processes each engenders in Mexico City. The approach presented here can be applied across cases, potentially improving land projection models in the rapidly urbanizing Global South, characterized by high informality. We conclude with a research agenda to identify, project, and evaluate informal urban expansion patterns.
- Mexico city
- remote sensing
- spatial patterns
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Earth-Surface Processes
- Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law