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What Are the Problems Associated with Rapid Urban Growth?

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What Are the Problems Associated with Rapid Urban Growth?

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  • October 15, 2008
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The urbanization process refers to much more than simple population growth; it involves changes in the economic, social and political structures of a region. Rapid urban growth is responsible for many environmental and social changes in the urban environment and its effects are strongly related to global change issues. The rapid growth of cities strains their capacity to provide services such as energy, education, health care, transportation, sanitation and physical security. Because governments have less revenue to spend on the basic upkeep of cities and the provision of services, cities have become areas of massive sprawl, serious environmental problems, and widespread poverty. During the 19th and early 20th centuries, urbanization resulted from and contributed to industrialization. New job opportunities in the cities motivated the mass movement of surplus population away from the countryside. At the same time, migrants provided cheap, plentiful labor for the emerging factories. Today, due to movements such as globalization, the circumstances are similar in developing countries. Here the concentration of investments in cities attracts large numbers of migrants looking for employment, thereby creating a large surplus labor force, which keeps wages low. This situation is attractive to foreign investment companies from developed countries who can produce goods for far less than if the goods were produced where wages are higher. Thus, one might wonder if urban poverty serves a distinct function for the benefit of global capital. One of the major effects of rapid urban growth is “urban sprawl"- scattered development that increases traffic, saps local resources and destroys open space. Urban sprawl is responsible for changes in the physical environment, and in the form and spatial organization of cities. Developed and less developed countries of the world differ not only in the percent living in cities, but also in the way in which urbanization is...