URBAN 2: How and why do contrasting urban environments develop?
Concept of urbanisation – relationship to urban growth. Importance of demographic, migratory and economic processes.
Cycle of urbanisation, suburbanisation, counter-urbanisation and reurbanisation.
MEDC urbanisation contrasted with LEDC urbanisation. Cycle applied to a range of countries at different states of
development. Suburbanisation and urban sprawl, counter-urbanisation in MEDCs. Urbanisation in an LEDC context.
Impact of rapid growth – issues of housing, employment, pollution in a selection of LEDC cities as an overview.
URBANISATION: this is the process by which more and more people live in towns and cities. It
is also a process of change from a rural society to a rural society. The proportion of the
population living in urban areas is called the LEVEL OF URBANISATION.
URBAN GROWTH: refers to the absolute increase in the physical size and total population of
Countries that urbanised many years ago have lower rates of urban growth, whereas LEDC’s
tend to have very high rates of urbanisation and urban growth – see diagram below……
2.1 Why do cities grow?
There are two main reasons for the growth in population:
1. Migration from the countryside – in the UK the population grew from 10 million living in
towns of over 20,000 to 54% of a population of 33 million in 1891. People migrated from
the rural areas in search of jobs and a better life. Cities in LEDC’s have grown faster
than those in MEDC’s. In 1995, 63% of the growth in LEDC cities was from natural
growth and 37% was due to in migration [every week 4,000 people arrive in Mexico City].
2. Natural population increase –this increase is related to a declining death rate which is a
result of better medical care and hygiene. The birth rates are lower in urban areas but
still high enough to be responsible for nearly 66% of urban population increase.
2.2 What is the pattern of urbanisation around the world?
Study the maps and graphs of world urbanisation and describe what they show.
2.2a Urbanisation in MEDC’s
The rich MEDC’s have an average of 70% of people living in urban areas. The UK percentage is
2.2b What was urbanisation like?
The Industrial Revolution began in the UK in about 1750 and drove the movement of people to
the towns. New production techniques needed big new factories and people lived nearby in
terraced houses in the inner cities. Thousands of people migrated to the new industrial towns.
SEE GRAPH OF THE GROWTH OF MANCHESTER 1801 – 1991 AND SHEET OF NOTES.
Industry attracted workers and services to the new towns – railways, roads and water supplies.
These improvements also created jobs in tertiary industries – transport, banking, finance and
The speed of growth created problems of overcrowding and poor water/sanitation. Diseases
spread in the cities and in the 1840’s the death rate was 36 per 1,000 and life expectancy was a
as low as 30 years. Some employers built good housing for their workers –
Port Sunlight near Liverpool (Lever Brothers).
City centres soon became very busy, noisy and polluted places. People who could afford to
moved out to the suburbs on the edge of the city. This movement was made possible by the
improvements in transport (road and rail). Towns and cities spread outwards to take in other
Following urbanisation and suburbanisation, in the 1970’s and 1980’s people in cities in the UK,
Europe, the USA and Japan began to leave cities to live in the countryside. The population
declined in the inner cities and suburbs. Population in smaller towns and villages grew.
This was made easier by greater car ownership and motorway construction and progress in
telecommunications and information technology.
In the 1980’s cities began to re-urbanise as the inner city areas were redeveloped in order to
attract companies and people back into the city centres. New shopping centres, flats, houses
and leisure facilities were built.
CASE STUDY: Manchester and fieldwork in Bristol
2.3 URBANISATION IN LEDC’S
The growth of cities in LEDC’s in the 20th century has been even faster than the growth in
MEDC’s. (Plot a graph to show the change in population in Sao Paulo, Brazil – 1870 - 25,000;
1890 – 65,000; 1920- 579,000; 1960 – 6 million; 1985 – 12 million and 1991 – 15 million.
2.3a Why have the towns and cities in LEDC’s grown so quickly?
Modernisation of agriculture – machinery & chemicals means fewer workers are needed
on the land. They are pushed to the cities where they hope to find work. In MEDC’s they
did during the industrial revolution.
Rapid population growth – results from a high birth rate and a low death rate.
The decline of traditional industries such as textiles and metal working means these
people move to large cities in search of work.
The PULL of the city – better housing, employment, education services etc.
2.3b what have been the effects of this rapid growth? [Chapter 8 section D has good
information on this issue on pages 311-316]
Housing issues – providing enough housing for the migrants is difficult. Sao Paulo gets
2,000 migrants per week. In the 1970’s SP built hundreds of low-grade apartment blocks,
these did not meet the demand for houses and so shanty towns developed in the edge of
the city. They often have no water or electricity or sewage disposal and are in the least
desirable parts of the city.
Employment issues – there are often not enough jobs for the migrants who arrive in the
cities. Many people work in the INFORMAL sector selling fruit, barbers, prostitutes,
Pollution – cities have to deal with the problem of waste disposal. In 1995 only 10% of
SP’s solid waste was collected and treated. SP spends $US1 million a day on rubbish
collection. In 1999 the city had two landfill sites and two incinerators.
Transport – as cities grow the transport system finds it hard to keep pace and traffic
jams and pollution result. In 1991 75% of SP’s 3.4 Million public transport users depended
upon 10,000 buses, 16% used the subway and 8.7% used the trains. In 200 more buses
have been ordered to provide jobs and improve the service.