In recent years, the balance between urban and rural living has been broken with more people living in urban areas than in rural areas. The process of mass movement in populations from rural to urban areas is known as urbanization. Urbanization comes with many benefits, but also has the ability to cause negative effects on people, communities, and the environment. So, what are the pros and cons of urbanization?
- Access to public transportation
- Diversity and multicultural influences
- Better opportunities (health services, education, employment)
- Tourist attractions that bring in revenue
- Better overall infrastructure
- Pollution (air, land, and water)
- Increase in health issues
- Spread of communicable diseases
- Development of slums and informal settlements
- Higher chance of homelessness
- Unevenly distributed opportunities (economic inequalities)
There are many positives that come from urbanization when properly planned, but the positives can easily be accompanied by negatives when planned poorly. Urbanization is often associated with a plethora of opportunities that are otherwise unavailable in more rural areas. When an area becomes urbanized, it opens up opportunities to health services, educational facilities, and jobs. With that being said, urbanization can cause cities to become overcrowded, polluted, and create economic inequalities.
- Pros of Urbanization
- Cons of Urbanization
- Overview: Pros and Cons of Urbanization
- Related Articles
Pros of Urbanization
According to the United Nations, approximately 4.4 billion people live in cities today, which is over half of the world population. That number is projected to grow to over 6 billion within the next 30 years. The opportunities that come with urbanization help improve the quality of life for people who live in towns and cities.
Urbanization Offers Better Opportunities
As cities begin to grow and expand, opportunities become more available. People have access to a greater amount of job opportunities when living in a town or city compared to a rural area simply because there are more business opportunities and places that one could find a job. Someone would have greater chances of finding a job opportunity in their career field if they lived in an urban area because they would have access to a number of facilities and businesses that need employees.
Urbanization also allows residents in towns and cities to have more options for health services, schools, and recreational facilities. Recreational facilities are very popular in urbanized areas and improve quality of life and socialization factors. Access to a variety of health services and education has the ability to improve quality of life for the residents that live in the area. With better access to education, the likelihood of advancement in higher education and employment is greater.
Diversity and Multicultural Influences
People who live in areas where urbanization is prominent are more likely to be exposed to different cultures and diverse communities. For example, New York City is home to many cultures, nationalities, and ethnicities that are accepted and appreciated. People in cities are able to experience food from different cultures and be exposed to various types of religion. Rural areas are quite the opposite. People living in rural areas tend to be a part of small, close-knit communities and do not experience the same diversities that one would in a city.
Access to Public Transportation
Generally, rural areas do not offer much public transportation if any at all depending on the location. People who live in rural areas tend to provide their own mode of transportation to get around to different places. Urbanized areas have better access to public transportation and it is easier to travel from one place to another without needing a car. Busses, trains or metros, and taxis are widely available to residents that live in towns and cities. People who live in cities may not require a vehicle to travel depending on their needs. For example, people who live in or near Washington D.C. can take the metro, bus, or a taxi to wherever they need to go.
Tourism: An Important Factor for Economic Development
Urban areas offer a great deal of tourist attractions that promote local businesses and increase revenue. Major tourist attractions have the ability to bring cities millions to billions of dollars in revenue annually. For example, Paris, France is a place where many people travel to visit its major attractions, such as the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum. As a result, the city of Paris brings in billions of dollars in revenue from tourism alone. When urban areas have major tourist attractions, it draws more visitors to come and spend money in the city or town. If urban areas are able to obtain large amounts of revenue from tourism, it increases funding for better facilities and infrastructure.
Urbanization drives economic growth and in return cities and towns are able to invest in better infrastructures. Urban areas are able to afford better infrastructure because cities and towns are able to bring in more revenue to improve buildings and roads. Maintenance and upkeep of infrastructures is important for areas to experience economic growth. Residents in rural areas often fall victim to poor infrastructure because the communities struggle to make enough revenue to be able to maintain and build better infrastructure.
Cons of Urbanization
Although urbanization creates employment opportunities, better education systems, and offers ways to improve quality of life, there are negative factors that come with it. Many cities and towns experience extreme economic inequalities, overcrowding, increases in health issues, pollution, and run the risk of widespread communicable diseases.
Spreading of Communicable Diseases
It became increasingly apparent at the start of Covid-19 that urbanization is a feeding ground for transmittable diseases and viruses. With people living in such close quarters, it is hard to distance oneself from others to prevent the spread. Because of this, people who live in urban areas become more susceptible to health issues and risks. Even if precautions are taken, it is hard to control a transmittable disease when residents in cities are constantly on the move and in contact with others.
Cities suffer from air, land, and water pollution caused by carbon dioxide emissions produced from vehicles and factories, littering, and filth that drains into waterways. In 1952, London was exposed to an environmental hazard caused by significant amounts of air pollution. A yellowish brown fog covered the entire city caused by air pollutants produced from factories, chimneys, and automobiles that became known as the Great Smog of 1952. Pollution caused by littering, fossil fuel emissions, and debris can cause major health issues for residents such as respiratory illnesses, cancer, and cardiovascular diseases and lead to detrimental environmental hazards.
Breeding Grounds for Poverty and Inequalities
When urbanization is poorly planned, poverty becomes a significant issue that takes over urban cities and towns. Urban sprawling is a common phenomenon that occurs caused by urban lands expanding at a faster rate than the urban population. Urban sprawl creates gaps in urbanized areas that leads to increasing divisions between rich and poor communities within a city. The development of slums and informal housing settlements begin to appear as a result of urban sprawling and weakens the efficiency of urbanization.
There are millions of people around the globe who fall victim to poverty by living in slums and informal settlements. The number of urban populations living in slums increased to over 1 billion people in 2018, 80 percent of which are located in regions of Central, Eastern, and Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Inadequate housing and living conditions in urban areas is a result of large population growth in cities and urbanization in places that cannot afford to build new infrastructure and affordable housing.
If urbanization is not planned thoroughly, communities in urban areas can fall victim to poverty and may not have the same opportunities that are available in highly-funded portions of a city. An example of this is the city of Chicago. The poorest neighborhood in Chicago is Riverdale with a median household income of $15,894 and the richest being Forest Glen at $112,032. Chicago is a city in the U.S. that experiences the inequalities of urbanization with many living in impoverished communities and others living in areas that are filled with economic growth and development.
Overview: Pros and Cons of Urbanization
Although there are many benefits to areas becoming more urbanized, it does take a toll on residents that do not have access to the same economic opportunities and facilities that may be available in properly planned and developed cities. Urban areas are also not nearly as safe as rural areas in relation to crime rates and health issues. With urbanization comes pollution which negatively affects urban environments and increases the risk of health issues for residents.
Urbanization has the ability to offer residents in urban areas the opportunity to advance and have access to better facilities that can improve quality of life. Employment opportunities increase as areas become more developed. Public transportation, tourist attractions that bring in revenue for cities, better infrastructure, and adequate facilities are all a result of effective and well-planned urbanization. When urban areas are underdeveloped, it increases the probability that communities will face economic disparities and health issues that are otherwise not seen as often in rural areas.
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