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Urbanization (also spelled "urbanisation") is the physical growth of urban areas as a result of global change. Urbanization is also defined by the United Nations as movement of people from rural to urban areas with population growth equating to urban migration. The United Nations projected that half of the world's population would live in urban areas at the end of 2008.

Urbanization is closely linked to modernization, industrialization, and the sociological process of rationalization.

Movement

Percentage of population which is urbanized, by country, as of 2006.
As more and more people leave villages and farms to live in cities, urban growth results. The rapid growth of cities like Chicago in the late 19th century and Shanghai a century later can be attributed largely to people from rural communities migrating there. This kind of growth is especially commonplace in developing countries.

The rapid urbanization of the world’s population over the twentieth century is described in the 2005 Revision of the UN World Urbanization Prospects report. The global proportion of urban population rose dramatically from 13% (220 million) in 1900, to 29% (732 million) in 1950, to 49% (3.2 billion) in 2005. The same report projected that the figure is likely to rise to 60% (4.9 billion) by 2030.. However, French economist Philippe Bocquier, writing in THE FUTURIST magazine, has calculated that "the proportion of the world population living in cities and towns in the year 2030 would be roughly 50%, substantially less than the 60% forecast by the United Nations (UN), because the messiness of rapid urbanization is unsustainable. Both Bocquier and the UN see more people flocking to cities, but Bocquier sees many of them likely to leave upon discovering that there’s no work for them and no place to live."

According to the UN State of the World Population 2007 report, sometime in the middle of 2007, the majority of people worldwide will be living in towns or cities, for the first time in history; this is referred to as the arrival of the "Urban Millennium". In regard to future trends, it is estimated 93% of urban growth will occur in developing nations, with 80% of urban growth occurring in Asia and Africa.

Urbanization rates vary between countries. The United Statesmarker and United Kingdommarker have a far higher urbanization level than Chinamarker, Indiamarker, Swazilandmarker or Nigermarker, but a far slower annual urbanization rate, since much less of the population is living in a rural area.



Causes

Urbanization occurs naturally from individual and corporate efforts to reduce time and expense in commuting and transportation while improving opportunities for jobs, education, housing, and transportation. Living in cities permits individuals and families to take advantage of the opportunities of proximity, diversity, and marketplace competition.

People move into cities to seek economic opportunities. In rural areas, often on small family farms, it is difficult to improve one's standard of living beyond basic sustenance. Farm living is dependent on unpredictable environmental conditions, and in times of drought, flood or pestilence, survival becomes extremely problematic.

Cities, in contrast, are known to be places where money, services and wealth are centralised. Cities are where fortunes are made and where social mobility is possible. Businesses, which generate jobs and capital, are usually located in urban areas. Whether the source is trade or tourism, it is also through the cities that foreign money flows into a country. It is easy to see why someone living on a farm might wish to take their chance moving to the city and trying to make enough money to send back home to their struggling family.

There are better basic services as well as other specialist services that aren't found in rural areas. There are more job opportunities and a greater variety of jobs. Health is another major factor. People, especially the elderly are often forced to move to cities where there are doctors and hospitals that can cater for their health needs. Other factors include a greater variety of entertainment (restaurants, movie theaters, theme parks, etc) and a better quality of education, namely universities. Due to their high populations, urban areas can also have much more diverse social communities allowing others to find people like them when they might not be able to in rural areas.

These conditions are heightened during times of change from a pre-industrial society to an industrial one. It is at this time that many new commercial enterprises are made possible, thus creating new jobs in cities. It is also a result of industrialisation that farms become more mechanised, putting many labourers out of work. This is currently occurring fastest in India.

Economic effects

In recent years, urbanization of rural areas has increased. As agriculture, more traditional local services, and small-scale industry give way to modern industry the urban and related commerce with the city drawing on the resources of an ever-widening area for its own sustenance and goods to be traded or processed into manufactures.

Research in urban ecology finds that larger cities provide more specialized goods and services to the local market and surrounding areas, function as a transportation and wholesale hub for smaller places, and accumulate more capital, financial service provision, and an educated labor force, as well as often concentrating administrative functions for the area in which they lie. This relation among places of different sizes is called the urban hierarchy.

As cities develop, effects can include a dramatic increase in costs, often pricing the local working class out of the market, including such functionaries as employees of the local municipalities. For example, Eric Hobsbawm's book The age of the revolution: 1789–1848 (published 1962 and 2005) chapter 11, stated "Urban development in our period [1789–1848] was a gigantic process of class segregation, which pushed the new labouring poor into great morasses of misery outside the centres of government and business and the newly specialised residential areas of the bourgeoisie. The almost universal European division into a 'good' west end and a 'poor' east end of large cities developed in this period." This is likely due the prevailing south-west wind which carries coal smoke and other airborne pollutants downwind, making the western edges of towns preferable to the eastern ones.

Urbanization is often viewed as a negative trend, but in fact, it occurs naturally from individual and corporate efforts to reduce expense in commuting and transportation while improving opportunities for jobs, education, housing, and transportation. Living in cities permits individuals and families to take advantage of the opportunities of proximity, diversity, and marketplace competition.

Environmental effects

The urban heat island has become a growing concern. The urban heat island is formed when industrial and urban areas are developed and heat becomes more abundant. In rural areas, a large part of the incoming solar energy is used to evaporate water from vegetation and soil. In cities, where less vegetation and exposed soil exists, the majority of the sun’s energy is absorbed by urban structures and asphalt. Hence, during warm daylight hours, less evaporative cooling in cities allows surface temperatures to rise higher than in rural areas. Additional city heat is given off by vehicles and factories, as well as by industrial and domestic heating and cooling units.This effect causes the city to become 2 to 10o F (1 to 6o C) warmer than surrounding landscapes.. Impacts also include reducing soil moisture and intensification of carbon dioxide emissions.

In his book Whole Earth Discipline, Stewart Brand argues that the effects of urbanization are on the overall positive for the environment. Firstly, the birth rate of new urban dwellers falls immediately to replacement rate, and keeps falling. This can prevent overpopulation in the future. Secondly, it puts a stop to destructive subsistence farming techniques, like slash and burn agriculture. Finally, it minimizes land use by humans, leaving more for nature.

Changing form of urbanization

Different forms of urbanization can be classified depending on the style of architecture and planning methods as well as historic growth of areas.

In cities of the developed world urbanization traditionally exhibited a concentration of human activities and settlements around the downtown area, the so-called in-migration. In-migration refers to migration from former colonies and similar places. The fact that many immigrants settle in impoverished city centres led to the notion of the "peripheralization of the core", which simply describes that people who used to be at the periphery of the former empires now live right in the centre.

Recent developments, such as inner-city redevelopment schemes, mean that new arrivals in cities no longer necessarily settle in the centre. In some developed regions, the reverse effect, originally called counter urbanisation has occurred, with cities losing population to rural areas, and is particularly common for richer families. This has been possible because of improved communications, and has been caused by factors such as the fear of crime and poor urban environments. Later termed "white flight", the effect is not restricted to cities with a high ethnic minority population.

When the residential area shifts outward, this is called suburbanization. A number of researchers and writers suggest that suburbanization has gone so far to form new points of concentration outside the downtown. This networked, poly-centric form of concentration is considered by some an emerging pattern of urbanization. It is called variously exurbia, edge city (Garreau, 1991), network city (Batten, 1995), or postmodern city (Dear, 2000). Los Angeles is the best-known example of this type of urbanization.

Rural migrants are attracted by the possibilities that cities can offer, but often settle in shanty towns and experience extreme poverty. In the 1980s, this was attempted to be tackled with the urban bias theory which was promoted by Michael Lipton who wrote: "...the most important class conflict in the poor countries of the world today is not between labour and capital. Nor is it between foreign and national interests. It is between rural classes and urban classes. The rural sector contains most of the poverty and most of the low-cost sources of potential advance; but the urban sector contains most of the articulateness, organization and power. So the urban classes have been able to win most of the rounds of the struggle with the countryside..." . Most of the urban poor in developing countries able to find work can spend their lives in insecure, poorly paid jobs. According to research by the Overseas Development Institute pro-poor urbanisation will require labour intensive growth, supported by labour protection, flexible land use regulation and investments in basic services.'

Planning for urbanization



Urbanization can be planned urbanization or organic. Planned urbanization, ie: new town or the garden city movement, is based on an advance plan, which can be prepared for military, aesthetic, economic or urban design reasons. Examples can be seen in many ancient cities; although with exploration came the collision of nations, which meant that many invaded cities took on the desired planned characteristics of their occupiers. Many ancient organic cities experienced redevelopment for military and economic purposes, new roads carved through the cities, and new parcels of land were cordoned off serving various planned purposes giving cities distinctive geometric designs. UN agencies prefer to see urban infrastructure installed before urbanization occurs. Landscape planners are responsible for landscape infrastructure (public parks, sustainable urban drainage systems, greenways etc) which can be planned before urbanization takes place, or afterward to revitalized an area and create greater livability within a region. Concepts of control of the urban expansion are considered in the American Institute of Planners.

New Urbanism

New Urbanism is a movement in urban planning that began in the 1990s and believes in shifting design focus from the car-centric development of suburbia and the business park, to concentrated pedestrian and transit-centric, walkable, mixed-use communities. New Urbanism is an amalgamation of old-world design patterns, merged with present-day demands. It is a backlash to the age of suburban sprawl, which splintered communities, and isolated people from each other, as well as had severe environmental impacts. Concepts for New Urbanism include people and destinations into dense, vibrant communities, and decreasing dependency on vehicular transportation as the primary mode.

See also



Urbanization in the Industrial Age:

References

  1. http://www.unicef.org/sowc08/docs/sowc08_table_StatisticalTables.pdf
  2. World Urbanization Prospects: The 2005 Revision, Pop. Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, UN
  3. Britannica Futurist Blog
  4. UN State of the World Population 2007, UNFPA
  5. based on 2000 U.S. Census Data
  6. Park, H.-S. (1987). Variations in the urban heat island intensity affected by geographical environments. Environmental Research Center papers, no. 11. Ibaraki, Japan: Environmental Research Center, The University of Tsukuba.
  7. "Heat Island Effect" [1]
  8. "Heating Up: Study Shows Rapid Urbanization in China Warming the Regional Climate Faster than Other Urban Areas" [2]
  9. Varshney, A. (ed.) 1993. "Beyond Urban Bias", p.5. London: Frank Cass.


  • Guy Ankerl: Urbanization Overspeed in Tropical Africa, INUPRESS, Geneva,1986 ISBN 2-88155-000-2


  • Glaeser, Edward. Are Cities Dying? The Journal of Economic Perspectives, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Spring, 1998), pp. 139-160

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