Urbanization is happening every day in almost every country, it has positive and negative effects.
In only a few decades, it is estimated that 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas and 60% of land that is planned to become urban by 2030 has yet to even be built. (“Sustainable Urbanization”) This means that most land that is rural and not even developed yet currently will be developed into cities in as little as a decade.
Humans are building cities about the size of vancouver every week.(“Global Impact of Urbanization”) This rate of urbanization has never been this large before and it will only continue to grow. Urbanization is the shift or movement of a population from rural areas to urban areas and the way each environment adapts to the shift. What is classified as an urban area is cities that contain a population of 10,000 to 50,000 people. In this essay, the focus is on the effects from the shift of urbanization on China. In China, this shift is growing very rapidly with only a few decades go, only 13% of China’s population lived in urban areas. In 2010, the rate of people living in urban areas climbed about 32%. And in 2011, the urban population surpassed the rural one. (Karen C. Seto) China is a very large country and about 30 of the world’s largest cities are located there. China is also one of the world’s four ancient civilization and started growing the day it began. In that time, almost everyone made a living working in urban areas. Some cities have always been large and have experienced more growth than other cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and are still experiencing urbanization and are undergoing a third phase of development and transition. (Karen C. Seto) However, there are cities that are just beginning their urbanization process. To fully understand the growth, one cannot simply visit Shanghai or a larger city and not a smaller city. In most of the bigger cities there is a very diverse, large, and educated labor pool and a very modern pool of consumers.
The urbanization in China has several factors. These factors include being listed as special economic zones by the government, a want for a better life quality, and a need for more workers due to cheaper manufacture taxes. In 1978, the Reform and Opening Up policy brought in China’s phenomenal economic growth. China’s government labeled some cities as special economic zones and enforced a new type of economic policies, and those locations developed rapidly due to them. Subsequently, a large increase of investments from investors all over the world started piling in. In those special economic zones, the urbanization process began and we can see the building and expansion of housing, factories, and roads etc. This influx of money gave these cities a head start in terms of economic development. This head start made people from rural areas become more attracted to urban areas due to their success. With an increase of money, an increase of education and government funded facilities followed. This leads to an increase of urban migration. People want a better life for themselves and their family. This includes better paying jobs and a better education. Better education leads to more opportunities and a better way of life. China is also known as being very cheap to manufacture products from and still leads in toy production. Low labor costs in China led to a decrease in variable and unit costs. China can make things cheaper than it can be made in other western manufacturing areas such as the US or Canada. Due to this, many people want to produce their products in China due to it costing less. More demand for products equals more demand for factory workers. For people wanting a better quality of life, a job in manufacturing may sound more appealing than a job in rural areas and may pay more. This would cause more to move to urban areas for better jobs and ultimately a better life for them and their families. All these examples lead to urbanization because they all are controlled by money. Money is a very common way to a better quality of life, which mostly everyone wants. People will move to where money is, and more money is to most likely be made in urban areas over rural ones.
In Planet of Slums by Mike Davis, one of the main themes is urbanization. He speaks about the causes and effects of such rapid growth. “Mega cities with more than 8 million residents and hyper cities with more than 20 million residents are more and more common” (Davis P.5). Davis emphasizes how rapid this growth is and how “in many cases rural people no longer have to migrate to the city; it migrates to them. “(P.9) This quotes shows how big cities are getting and how it is affecting rural land whether people like it or not. He talks about the positive effects and negative effects like hurting small businesses and old traditions. He also highlights on how large cities begin and that they aren’t always built on lots of money and lots of cities were built in nations where poverty is common. “The size of a city’s economy, as a result, often bears surprisingly little relationship to its population’s size and vice versa” (P.13) Many people try and shoot their shot at a better life when the move to cities, even when they themselves are coming from poverty. This is odd but true, even though expenses in urban areas cost more.
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