What is urbanization: concept, reasons, pros and cons

What is urbanization: concept, reasons, pros and cons

Section of the exam: 3.. Urban and rural population of the world. Urbanization as a worldwide process

Population settlement is the process of formation and development of a network of settlements.

A locality is a place of permanent residence of people. There are two types of settlements: 1) urban; 2) rural.

Urban areas include cities and urban settlements, and rural areas include villages (group settlement, prevalent mainly in Central and Southern Europe, Russia) and farms (diffuse settlement, widespread in the USA, Canada, Australia ).

In 2009, for the first time in the history of mankind, the urban population equaled the rural population, amounting to 3.4 billion people. And further, it is expected that an increasing proportion of the world population will be urban dwellers (that is, the urban population will continue to grow faster than the world's population as a whole), which is confirmed by the latest (for 2013) data.


A city is a settlement, most of the population of which is employed in the field of industry, construction, services and in other spheres not related to agricultural activity.

There is no single concept of “city” for all countries. Often the main criterion for its allocation is the population size. In some countries, settlements with a population of more than 1000 people are considered cities. In the United States, for a settlement to be a city, at least 2,500 people must live in it, in Russia at least 12,000, in Japan more than 30,000.


Urbanization - the growth of cities and urban population. Three main features of modern urbanization:

  • rapid urban growth (especially in less developed countries);
  • high concentration of population in large cities;
  • urban sprawl ...

Particularly rapid growth rates of the urban population are characteristic of the 20th century. If at the beginning of the century only 14% of the world's population lived in cities, then by the middle this figure had doubled.

The share of urban population varies significantly across countries and continents. In Europe, the Americas, Australia and Oceania, the urban population is about 75% of the total population, while in Africa and Asia it is just over 30%.

The development of urban systems in different countries, despite some similarities (the presence of a large center, suburban and rural areas), depending on the existing national characteristics, the specifics of the area and social policy, occurs in different ways. According to the global trend, there are several main stages of urban development, the main of which are urbanization and suburbanization. If the term urbanization is understandable, then suburbanization is often used solely as its "counterweight". Is this really so, and what is suburbanization?

Suburbanization: definition, prerequisites, consequences

The word "suburb" is translated from English as a suburb, and its derivative is used by sociologists to describe the process of the outflow of the urban population to its nearest suburbs.

Not to be confused with false urbanization, when overpopulation of megacities causes a deterioration in the quality of life (the most pressing issue is the shortage of jobs), people are forced to move to the nearest neighborhoods. Unlike false urbanization, which is more like the flight of marginalized segments of the population, suburbanization implies voluntary relocation to low-rise buildings (a prerequisite), created by the municipality.

The first and most striking example of suburbanization was recorded, or more precisely, it was competently organized, by the US government in the postwar years of the twentieth century. We described this process in more detail in our article . om/socium/suburbiya. tm.

This campaign changed the negative-dismissive connotation haunting the term. Instead of housing for low-income and ethnic minorities, the suburbs began to be considered, and in line with, the status of areas with prestigious housing for a comfortable life.

Living in a nearby suburb provides an opportunity to receive the necessary benefits of city life, while relieving people of the main disadvantages of a metropolis:

  • dirt, gas pollution, noise;
  • traffic jams;
  • high crime rate.

The attractiveness of the suburbs is also due to the acute shortage of housing in urban areas. The larger the city, the larger its population and, accordingly, the higher the demand for housing. Low-rise buildings in suburbia make it possible to redistribute the population as quickly and painlessly as possible (without any forced evictions).

It is also worth noting that suburbanization does not make urban dwellers rural, since the main employment in the metropolis remains. In addition, in such areas, as a rule, any large infrastructure facilities, including schools, supermarkets, and transport, are completely absent or significantly removed. Therefore, one of the necessary requirements for a comfortable life in the suburbs is the availability of a personal car.

Suburbanization of the world: examples from the USA, Europe and Russia

The American suburbia is considered the standard of commuting (the movement of large numbers of people to work and back from their places of residence) and a model of planning, but it is far from unique.

The prominent representatives of the suburbanized suburbs of Europe are Great Britain and France. Their analysis will allow you to see what the process and result of suburbanization can be with different components.

For centuries, the world economy has been powered by energy. The urbanization of large cities has led to the fact that megacities produce about 75% of world GDP, and in the period from 2015 to 2030 will generate up to 86%. However, the world's cities are facing more difficult demographics and the times of easy growth are over. What other problems are troubling the population and the government of modern megacities, find out in our material.

General information on the urbanization process

In the past, urban economies expanded largely because their populations grew due to high birth rates and massive rural migration. Both of these sources of growth are currently diminishing. Global population growth is slowing due to declining birth rates and aging. At the same time, in many regions, migration from rural areas to cities is taking its course. How cities adapt to the new reality is important not only for their prospects, but also for those countries that will continue to rely on thriving cities.

By 2030, about 60% of the world's population will live in cities. In our time, there are countries even with a 100% urban population. For example, Hong Kong, Kuwait, Monaco, Nauru and Singapore.

It doesn't matter whether it is a developed country or a poor country - the rural population is leaving villages and starting to live in cities. Already, the level of urbanization in the largest cities in the world exceeds 75%, and their list includes:

  • Bangalore (India);
  • Kinshasa (DRC);
  • Guiyang (China);
  • Mexico City (Mexico);
  • El Alto (Bolivia);
  • Copenhagen (Denmark);
  • Kigali (Rwanda).

These are the ones that will be discussed further. Rapid urbanization of large cities has caused them to face a variety of problems, ranging from pollution to a lack of jobs.

Urbanization of large cities

Population in 2015: about 7 million Forecast for 2100: 21 million

In India, predicted to be the most populous country with over 1.5 billion people by 2050, urban dwellers have doubled in the past 30 years, reaching 600 million. the megacities of Mumbai and Delhi will not grow; instead, small towns will expand rapidly.

In many countries, economic development, industrialization can be stimulated and enhanced by urbanization. In recent years, developing countries have been increasingly involved in this process.

Urbanization is manifested in an increase in urban population in relation to rural or rural and is expressed as a percentage.

World urban and rural population, 1950-2050, billions

Every year the United Nations (UN) carries out a statistical analysis in the field of economic and social issues, the result of which is a report on the rates of urbanization of countries.

Based on this analysis, we will consider the processes of migration of the population from rural areas to cities in various countries.

World Urbanization

All over the world, there is a tendency for people to relocate to large cities.

The boundaries of large cities continue to grow, but the pace of movement of citizens to them in different geographic zones differs. In 2021, Latin American states are urbanized similarly to European ones, but Asian and African countries are still dominated by agriculture, where an intensive increase in migration is only expected in the coming years.

Urbanization rate of countries in different parts of the world in - year

Urban population by major geographic regions of the world, 1950-2050, billion people

Statistics are based on data from institutions and supplemented by data from international organizations. It shows that more than 50% of the world's population lives on a permanent basis in large cities.

Everyone strives to improve the quality of his life and is constantly looking for opportunities for this. One of the consequences of this desire is urbanization. Today we will talk about what it is, how it manifests itself, what causes it and what place it occupies in the history of mankind.

What is urbanization?

Urbanization is a worldwide process of strengthening the role of cities, increasing the share of urban population and popularizing urban lifestyles. It manifests itself, first of all, in the fact that people born in rural areas tend to move to a large city in order to provide themselves with a higher standard of living and get more opportunities for self-development and self-realization.

The word "urbanization" is derived from the Latin urbanus, which translates as "urban". Thus, this term denotes a certain process associated with an increase in the role of “the whole city”. This implies not only the flow of population to large cities, but also the expansion of the influence of urban culture.

Interestingly, at present, the processes of urbanization in developed and developing countries are very different. In developed countries, a reverse process has begun in recent years - many people tend to move to the countryside. In developing countries, the old trend continues - in the cities there is an influx of new residents, while in the villages the population is decreasing.

How is urbanization manifested?

Urbanization is a multifaceted phenomenon that has several main forms of manifestation:

Reasons for urbanization

Urbanization is a complex process influenced by many different factors. As the most important, sociologists name such reasons as:

  • rapid economic growth;
  • constant creation of new jobs;
  • improvement of transport infrastructure;
  • decrease in demand in agricultural work;
  • higher living standards in urban settings;
  • opportunities for employment and self-realization;
  • opportunities for education and self-development;
  • access to a large number of benefits;
  • high level of service in cities.

The reason for most of these factors (and hence the main reason for urbanization) is scientific and technological progress. It is thanks to him that the attractiveness of city life increases. And thanks to him, the agricultural industry is almost completely automated, as a result of which the rural population has no work.

Related concepts

To better understand what urbanization is, it is important to be aware of related phenomena such as de-urbanization, suburbanization and false urbanization. Let's consider each of them in more detail:

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