While the origins of cities go back to over five thousand years, urbanization; the process of population concentration into urban areas is a recent phenomenon dating back to the 18th Century when cities began growing in the now developed world. As Davis puts it, before 1850 no society could be described as predominantly urban. Today, all industrial nations are highly urbanized, and in the world as a whole the process of urbanization is accelerating rapidly.
Davis's observations are substantiated by Todaro's findings on the global rate of urbanization, which the reports rose from 29 in 1950 to 50 in 2007. Despite having stabilized in the developed countries, the process of urbanization continues to increase throughout most of the developing world, where 75% of the world's increase in urban population is projected to occur. What are the driving forces behind this trend? Is the urban explosion happening in developing countries in the 20th Century simply a linear extension of the urbanization of the now-developed countries in the 19th Century? To answer these questions, I will first discuss the role of cities and the demographic trends in both sets of countries, then I will analyze the relative importance of industrialization and the informal sector, and finally, I will assess the similarities between the developed world's and developing world's experiences. I will attempt to show that despite some overlap between the two urbanization experiences, there are important quantitative and qualitative differences. While urbanization in today's developed countries was influenced mainly by an influx of migrants from rural areas driven by industrialization, in developing countries it is primarily the result of the natural increase of urban populations and their reliance on the informal sector.
[...] Todaro, Economic Development (2000), ch.8, ‘Urbanisation and Rural- Urban Migration'  K.Davis, The Origin and Growth of Urbanization in the World, The American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 60, No. 5, World Urbanism (Mar., 1955), pp. 429-437  P. Hohenberg, The Making of Urban Europe, 1000-1950 (1985), ch.7, 213- 247  E. Leamer and M. Storper, "The Economic Geography of the Internet Age", NBER Working Paper No. 8450 (2001)  J. Gugler, Economic Development and Cultural Change, Vol. 31, No.1 (Oct., 1992), pp. [...]
[...] Are the reasons for the growth similar to those that explained urban growth in the developed countries? While the origins of cities go back to over five thousand years, urbanization; the process of population concentration into urban areas is a recent phenomenon dating back to the 18th Century when cities began growing in the now developed world. As Davis puts it, “before 1850 no society could be described as predominantly urban. Today, all industrial nations are highly urbanized, and in the world as a whole the process of urbanization is accelerating rapidly.” Davis's observations are substantiated by Todaro's findings on the global rate of urbanization, which the reports rose from 29% in 1950 to 50% in 2007. [...]
[...] Preston, ‘Urban Growth in Developing Countries: a Demographic Reappraisal', Population and Development Review 5, 1979  S. Preston, ‘Urban Growth in Developing Countries: a Demographic Reappraisal', Population and Development Review 5, 1979  D. Davin, Internal Migration in Contemporary China (1999), ch.1, ‘Migration in China after 1949'; and ‘An Overview of Migration since 1978'  B. London, Structural Determinants of Third World Urban Change: An Ecological and Political Economic Analysis, American Sociological Review, Vol. 52, No. 1 (Feb., 1987), pp. 28-43  R.S. [...]
[...] Regional patterns have also been observed in the urbanization of developed countries. Preston notes that in Latin America the urbanization rate is as high as in Europe (roughly 70%) while Asia is still predominantly rural (on average 36% of urbanization). Africa's urbanization rate is much lower (about 30%) and urbanization appeared quite late (in the 1960s) but rapidly. With respect to sets of countries, the reasons for and manifestations of urban explosion vary greatly and illustrate the challenges to applying a universal model to describing the phenomenon. [...]
[...] For example, New York City now accounts for roughly 6% of the national population of the United States, compared to 5% for Los Angeles, the second largest city. Meanwhile Santiago, Chile holds more than a third of the national population and the second largest city, Concepcion barely holds 1%. There is an increasing number of urban giants in the developing world (Istanbul, Hyderabad, Bangkok etc) that account demographically for more and more of developing countries' growth. There have also been similar reasons for urban growth in the developing and the now-developed world. [...]
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