Global Urbanizationby Rit Nosotro
Change Over Time essay
Describe reasons for increasing urbanization and explain some benefits and/or detriments resulting from the growth of cities.
About 16 million people migrate each year to urban areas from rural areas in developing countries (not including China); this accounts for about one half of recent urban growth.
In the last 50 years, the balance of the population living in rural areas vs. cities has shifted. Now more than 50 percent of the world’s population lives in cities. More than two-thirds of the world’s countries are urbanized. Some factors that push people from the rural areas into the cities are deterioration of agricultural lands, and lack of support for the agricultural market. There are also pull factors which pull the people living in rural areas to the cities. These factors include better jobs, education, and health care. Many people are protesting the negative outcomes of urbanization, but the advantages are greater than the disadvantages.
For the majority of human history most people haved lived in rural areas. However, in the past fifty years an anomaly has occurred. For the first time in history the majority of the population now live in urban areas. This is a result of people moving from rural surroundings so the city, a natural population increase in cities (births minus deaths), and the reclassification of previously rural areas that have been built up. In 1880 only 3 percent of the world’s population lived in major cities. In 1950 that number had increased to 29 percent and now more than 50 percent of the worlds total population lives in urbanized areas.1 It has even been projected that by the year 2030, 80% of the world’s population will live in cities.
Countries are classifies as either ‘developed’ or ‘undeveloped’. Developed is the term used to describes the countries that have already been urbanized (aka- world powers), whereas undeveloped is the term used to describe the countries that have yet to be urbanized. There are a total of 131 developed countries, which means that 61 countries are undeveloped. About 16 million people migrate each year to urban areas from rural areas in developing countries (not including China); this accounts for about one half of recent urban growth.
So why are all of these people deserting the farmlands and heading for the ‘Big Apple’? The reasons are profuse but there are a few that are dominating. Some of the “push” factors (those are the factors that push people out of rural areas) include the deteriorating quantity and quality of agricultural lands, poor market infrastructure, and the lack of supporting institutions for agriculture (i.e. credit for small scale farmers). In addition to the push factors there are the “pull” factors (those are the factors that pull people into urban areas). Some of the pull factors include the access to better jobs, education, healthcare, and higher living standards. So basically it comes down to people wanting to escape adverse rural conditions and seize the opportunities that are found in large cities.
Most people say that urbanization began with the Industrial Revolution. This would make sense considering it is the Industrial Revolution that produced mass jobs in cities and began limiting the number of people needed in farmlands. As technology progressed and farming gave way to factories, rural life likewise gave way to city life.
Today the world’s largest city is Tokyo (located in Japan), containing 31.8 million people. Tokyo contains roughly 6,152 residents per square mile (this does not even include tourists). While in America the largest city is New York, which contains 19.8 million people but has a substantially smaller population density. With only 2,271 people per square mile it is held in a different category than Tokyo.2 Right now there are 23 cities with populations of more that 10 million people. This is a great increase from 50 years ago when there was only one city this size.
Many people today are campaigning against urbanization. They claim urbanization has hurt the environment and that people have, all in all, not benefited from it. They blame urbanization for polluting the environment and destroying natural habitats for animals. These people, however honorable their reasoning, fail to see the good things that have come from urbanization. Many more people can read and write today because of the opportunities that lie in large cities. Not only are more people literate, but more people also have access to better medical care. Urbanization has also significantly increased the middle class worldwide, which many economies have benefited from. People that fight against urbanization can not see that it is just the result of a maturing human race and that although there are definite drawbacks (pollution, crowding, etc.) but the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages.
Commentary: Urbanization has substantial advantageous for the people of God. Because the fact that it brings such a concentration of people into a small area, many share the same interests, such as missions, and preaching. It also allows for greater resources to be tapped into. In Mark 16:15, Jesus says, ‘Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.’ Urbanization doesn’t make this commandment from Jesus possible, but it does magnify the potential tenfold.
In one of the most frequently quoted pieces of Scripture in the New Testament the Bible specifically mentions three of the biggest cities of the time. “But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere- in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Urbanization has incalculably helped in the spreading of the Gospel. So not only do more people have access to better physical conditions but also to better spiritual conditions. People in remote areas of old would have had difficulty hearing the name “Jesus”. Urbanization allows the rapid spread of ideas such as the gosple of Jesus Christ. The Lord can use anything for His glory, and today He is using urbanization in a marvelous way to spread His Good News.
1. In 1880 what percentage of people lived in urban areas?
2. How many countries are still defined as “undeveloped” today?
3. Which of the following is NOT a pull factor?
a) Better education
b) More room
c) Better jobs
d) Higher living standards
4. Right now Tokyo contains ______ million people.
5. Where is the following verse found in the Bible: “But when the Holy
Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about
me everywhere- in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of
b) Matthew 5:28
c) Acts 1:8
d) Revelation 1:1
1. “Developing World Urbanization”, Don Hinrichsen, Ruwaida M.
Salem, MPH, and Richard Blackburn, MS. http://www.infoforhealth.org/pr/q&as/m16/future8.shtml
2. “Mega-Cities: Global Urbanization and Innovation”, Janice E. Perlman. http://www.megacitiesproject.org/publications/pdf/mcp013.pdf#search='global%20urbanization ? 1993
3. “Urbanization Process” http://www.populationenvironmentresearch.org/papers/Nsiah-Gyaabah_contribution.pdf#search='causes%20of%20urbanization
4. “Urbanization and Change”, Kwasi Nsiah-Gyabaah http://www.aag.org/HDGC/www/urban/units/unit1/html/1bkground.html
5. “Transportation Infrastructure” Citizens Budget Infrastructure- New York http://www.cbcny.org/transport9907 ? 1999
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