Glossary:Degree of urbanisation

Common term: Degree of urbanisation, Abbreviation: DEGURBA

The Degree of urbanisation classifies local administrative units (at LAU2 level) as cities, towns and suburbs, or rural areas based on a combination of geographical contiguity and minimum population thresholds applied to 1 km² population grid cells.

The categories are defined as follows:

  1. Cities (alternative name: densely-populated areas): at least 50 % of the population lives in an urban centre.
  2. Towns and suburbs (alternative name: intermediate density areas): less than 50 % lives in an urban centre but more than 50 % of the population lives in an urban cluster.
  3. Rural areas (alternative name: thinly populated areas): more than 50 % of the population lives in rural grid cells.

Each urban centre should have at least 75 % of its population in a city. This ensures that all urban centres are represented by at least one city, even when this urban centre represents less than 50 % of the population of a LAU2.

As local administrative units vary considerably in area, this methodology will lead to a closer match between an urban centre and a local administrative units classified as city in countries with small local administrative units than in those with large local administrative units. To take this difference into account, the classification can be adjusted as following:

  • A local administrative unit classified as city can be classified as town and suburb as long as 75% of the urban centre population remains in (other) local administrative units classified as city.
  • Local administrative unit can be classified rural area or town and suburbs can be classified as a city if it belongs to a group of local administrative units with a political function and if the majority of population of this group of local administrative units lives in an urban centre.

By default, all three categories above shall be collected, stored and disseminated as specified in the respective legal requirements. However, for analytic and publication purposes, the categories (1) “Cities” and (2) “Towns and Suburbs” can be combined to classify urban areas in comparison to category (3) “rural areas”.


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Degree of urbanisation

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