Monday, January 04, 2010

City city

I know these statistical frighteners are a dime a dozen:
The year 2010 will likely be the first time in history that a majority of the world's people live in cities rather than in the countryside. Whereas less than 30 percent of the world's population was urban in 1950, according to UN projections, more than 70 percent will be by 2050. Lower-income countries in Asia and Africa are urbanizing especially rapidly, as agriculture becomes less labor intensive and as employment opportunities shift to the industrial and service sectors. Already, most of the world's urban agglomerations - Mumbai (population 20.l million), Mexico City (19.5 million), New Delhi (17 million), Shanghai (15.8 million), Calcutta (15.6 million), Karachi (13.1 million), Cairo (12.5 million), Manila (11.7 million), Lagos (10.6 million), Jakarta (9.7 million) - are found in low-income countries. Many of these countries have multiple cities with over one million residents each: Pakistan has eight, Mexico 12, and China more than 100.
Jack A. Goldstone, "The New Population Bomb," Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb 2010, pp. 32-33, 38.  via

 If the urbanization of the planet is happening so rapidly, where is anyone offering any significantly improved model of the city, and of how to get there? Is there any coverage of this, other than on the local level? Oh wait, here's an old JSTOR article, three pages long. All three pages can be had for a mere $12...

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Blogger jonhusband said...

There's another interesting (and probably not unrelated) issue that struck me, forcefully, a few tears ago when I spent some time in Istanbul, another very very large city (10.3 million).

I was struck when walking down the (hugely crowded_ pedestrian-only main thoroughfare leading to Taksim Square, by the fact that I observed very few grey-haired heads amongst the thousands of people in the street.

I think that in many of the cities (and countries) in the extract cited in your post, the demographics are such that young people (under 40?) dominate. By and large, these cities are in still-developing countries where the average income is a small percentage of he average in income of the G8 or Gx countries.

In the G8, population growth is much slowed down, and the proportion of elderly or near-elderly is accelerating.

Combine that with a probably-growing realization on the part of these younger people in the less-developed (I do not like that term, but it will have to suffice here) of the economic / income inequalities between the 1st and 2nd or 3rd worlds, and there's a potential delicious recipe for some kinds of turmoil ?

1/04/2010 9:01 PM  
Blogger Tom Matrullo said...

From the same excerpt:

By 2003, the combined populations of Europe,
the United States, and Canada accounted for
just 17 percent of the
global population. In 2050, this figure is
expected to be just 12 percent -
far less than it was in 1700.

Yes, age, wealth, and the sheer disproportion of western populations to eastern - it will be difficult to not expect a growing global awareness of a tottering elite set of cities in decline.

1/04/2010 11:27 PM  

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