How to define Urban Growth or Urbanization?
Urban growth is defined as the rate at which the population of an urban area increases. This result from urbanization which is the movement of people from rural areas to urban areas. Urban growth may lead to a rise in the economic development of a country. Urban growth is also referred to as the expansion of a metropolitan or suburban area into the surrounding environment. It can be considered as an indicator of the state of a country’s economic condition as the effect of urban growth directly impacts the country’s economic development. The more the metropolitan area grows, the more employment it generates, and in this way economic growth also takes place.
- Other challenges are the small growth of formal employment resulting in the growth of the urban informal sector, urban unemployment, and underemployment. Another challenge is the inability of social and physical infrastructure to grow at par with the urban growth resulting in deterioration of the quality of urban life. These problems are visible in most of the cities in India.
- With the rise in urbanization mostly seen as population explosion, some events like rapid population growth because of natural increase, migration from rural areas to urban areas, classification of the rural regions as towns because of the changing demographic character of the rural regions pose a challenge.
- Urbanization is an integral part of economic development. As the economy develops, there is an increase in per capita income and also demand for non-farm goods in the marketplace. These goods are not heavily land dependent. These are cheaper if produced in the urban sector because all provisions for providing these goods are available here.
Urban growth leads to urbanization which in turn leads to some changes such as-
- Migration of rural people to urban areas.
- Employment opportunities in urban centers.
- Transport and communication facilities.
- Educational facilities.
- Increase in the standard of living.
Urbanization can yield positive effects if it takes place up to a desirable limit. Extensive urbanization or indiscriminate growth of cities may result in adverse effects like-
- The problem of overpopulation, the growth of slums, etc.
- The disintegration of the Joint family
- Cost of living
- Increase in Crime rates
- Impersonal relations
- Problem of Pollution
Most of these changes have a direct impact on the country’s economic development.
Related: What is Population Pyramid, What is population dynamics?, What is Population Geography
Various characteristics of urban growth or urbanization:
A. Economic Development
- The level of urbanization is considered as an index of economic development.
- Economic growth results in the shift in demand and therefore to a reallocation of resources –land, labor, and capital- out of agriculture into manufacturing and services.
B. Industrialization and Density
- The relative importance of manufacturing and services the does not just characterize an urban settlement but more importantly, by a high density of population. Much of manufacturing is cheaper when produced on a large-scale because of the economies of scale.
- Also, there are ready availability of inputs like skilled labor, repair services etc. from which profit is earned by the producer. People like to live near places of work.
- Economies of scale and cost of transportation cause concentration of production and people in a specific location.
- Industrialization leads to urbanization but not vice versa.
- The bigger cities have one advantage. Most businesses are subject to fluctuations. In big cities, one may switch from one employer to another in case of need or any other reason since there is a wide choice. In that way, a wage laborer is better off in migrating to a big city rather than a small city, where (big city) he is likely to be more fully employed. All these factors increase the density of population in the cities.
Related: Greenfield Development, Benefits of Living in Cities
Primary production and urban growth: Primary production has to do with agriculture, fishing, forestry, and mining. It is well-known that, particularly since AD 1850, a large number of mining towns have emerged in India. The entire coal region of Bengal, Bihar, and Orissa has a number of, mining towns; the chief among which are Jharia, Ranigani, Keonjhar and Asansol. Unlike mining, fishing and forestry have not generated many urban places in India.
Secondary activities and urban growth: The most conspicuous examples of urbanization directly as a result of secondary activity are Durgapur, Bhilai and Rourkela. Jamshedpur also had its beginnings as an industrial township in 1912. There is no doubt that secondary urbanization has made a strong impression on the Indian landscape.
Tertiary production and urbanization: From ancient times, tertiary services have played a major role in the urbanization process. The earliest cities of the world came into existence essentially in order to provide tertiary services to their hinterland. It is often thought that the earliest cities developed as parasites thriving on the surplus food produced in the rural hinterland. The growth of tertiary activities in a city contributes in a direct way to city growth. In every city, a part of the city tertiary activities are meant for its own population, but a second and perhaps more significant part exists for the benefits of the people in the city’s hinterland.
Economic development generally refers to the sustained, concerted actions of policymakers and communities that promote the standard of living and economic health of a specific area. Economic development can also be referred to as the quantitative and qualitative changes in the economy. Such actions can involve multiple areas including development of human capital, critical infrastructure, regional competitiveness, environmental sustainability, social inclusion, health, safety, literacy, and other initiatives.
- Urbanization is an integral part of economic development. As an economy develops, there is an increase in per capita income and also demand for non-farm goods in the economy. These goods are not heavily land dependent. These are cheaper if produced in the urban sector because all provisions for production these goods are available here.
- With the rise in urbanization, many events like rapid population growth because of natural increase, migration from rural areas to urban areas, classification of rural areas as towns because of the changing demographic character of the rural regions pose a challenge.
- Other challenges are the weak growth of formal employment resulting in the growth of the urban informal sector, urban unemployment, and underemployment. Another challenge is the inability of social and physical infrastructure to grow at par with the urban population growth resulting in deterioration of the quality of urban life. These problems are visible in most of the cities in India.
Hence, the level of urbanization is regarded as an index of economic development, as financial growth results in the shift in demand and therefore to a reallocation of resources –land, labor and capital- out of agriculture into manufacturing and services.
Also Read: Brownfield Development – Background, Setbacks and Examples, Wasteland Management, What is Counter Urbanisation