Suburban sprawl in the developing world: Duplicating past mistakes? the case of kuala lumpur, Malaysia

Lawrence Loh, William Brieger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Newly affluent developing world cities increasingly adopt the same unfortunate low-density suburban paradigm that shaped cities in the industrialized world. Identified by a World Bank report as a "mini-Los Angeles," Kuala Lumpur is a sentinel example of the results of unrestrained sprawl in the developing world. Factors driving sprawl included government policies favoring foreign investment, "mega-projects," and domestic automobile production; fragmented governance structures allowing federal and state government influence on local planning; increasing middle-class affluence; an oligopoly of local developers; and haphazard municipal zoning and transport planning. The city's present form contributes to Malaysia's dual burden of disease, with inner-city shantytown dwellers facing communicable disease and malnutrition while suburban citizens experience increasing chronic disease, injury, and mental health issues. Despite growing awareness in city plans targeted toward higher density development, Kuala Lumpur presents a warning to other emerging economies of the financial, societal, and population health costs imposed by quickly-built suburban sprawl.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)199-211
Number of pages13
JournalInternational quarterly of community health education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Education
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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