Country Classifications and Urbanization Processes

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Compare and contrast the main characteristics of the urbanization process in the First and Third Worlds

Urbanization, meaning the increase in the proportion of the total population living in urban areas, has been a worldwide phenomenon since 1950 (Pacione), particularly due to the rapid economic development after the second world, but such a process has existed for centuries, as early as in the 18th and 19th century when the industrial revolution took place in Europe. Even so, the urbanization processes in First World and Third World are different. This essay will focus on and compare the characteristics of the urbanization process in First World and Third World, from the 16th century till now.

To avoid confusion, I would like define what First World and Third World are. First World mainly refers the capitalist industrial market economies such as the United States and those Western European Countries like the UK and Germany, while Third World, in the socio-economic sense, refers to those countries failing to develop economically after their independence. (Lee) In fact, in these less developed countries, the life expectancy of is low. The urban fertility and net reproduction rates are high, though. (Lee)

Similarities
No doubt, urbanization is closely related to the economic development. One of the common characteristics of the urbanization process in First and Third World is that the processes in both places are mainly boosted by the economic development. (Pacione) For example, in Britain, which is one of the highly-developed countries in the world, when the industrialization started in the 18th century, urbanization began to take place at the same time due to more job opportunities in cities. More jobs available and the higher wages therefore attracted a lot of people living in the rural areas to flock to the cities as it is believed that living and working in urban areas enabled their standards of living to be raised. Such a phenomenon not only appeared in the more developed regions, but also in the less developed regions, which can be reflected by what is happening in China, which is one of the countries in the Third World, that many rural peasants abandon their farmland in the rural areas and go to cities to search for jobs, which enable them to earn high salaries. In fact, a report from Amnesty International in 2007 reveals that over the past two decades, more than 2 hundred millions rural peasants have moved to cities. (BBC Chinese) Moreover, Findley (1993), also found that “for twenty-four developing countries between 2975 and 1990, the average contribution of migration to urban growth was 54%. (Pacione) All these show that net in-migration to urban areas because of the better economic development in the regions is one of the common characteristics in the urbanization process in First and Third Worlds. Also, in both First and Third Worlds, during the process of urbanization, industrialization and urbanization are mutually reinforcing. While the economic growth will result in increasing levels of urbanization, higher levels of urbanization in turn can stimulate more economic growth. (Pacione)

In fact, whether it is First World or Third World would still pass the four different stages of urban development model by Klaassen et al (1981) and van den Berg et al. ( 1982) – urbanization, suburbanization, disurbanization and reurbaniation. It is inevitable for all countries, either in the more developed regions or less developed regions, to pass through these 4 stages as they are the essential cycle of urbanization of an area.

Differences
However, even though both the First and Third Worlds have to experience all the four stages of urbanization, there are several differences in their urbanization processes.

Firstly, the period of experiencing the four stages of the first world and third world is different. Most of the countries in First World such as Britain, the USA and Japan experienced the first stage...
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