Challenges of Urban Planning at the Face of Counter-Urbanization

By Islam, Kazi Saiful | Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management, May 2009 | Go to article overview
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Challenges of Urban Planning at the Face of Counter-Urbanization

Islam, Kazi Saiful, Theoretical and Empirical Researches in Urban Management

1. Introduction

World population is currently growing at a rate of 1.2 percent annually, implying a net addition of 77 million people per year. Six countries account for half of that annual increment: India for 21 percent; China for 12 percent; Pakistan for 5 percent; Bangladesh, Nigeria and the United States of America for 4 percent each. Today the population of the more developed regions of the world is rising at an annual rate of 0.25 percent. For the less developed regions, this figure is nearly six times higher (1.46 percent) (Population 2005, 2003). The world's urban population today is around 3 billion--the same size as the world's total population in 1960. During the 20th century, it increased more than tenfold and close to 50 percent of the world's population now lives in urban centers, compared to less than 15 percent in 1900 (Satterthwaite, 2005). However, the very important population growth rate has begun to slow down. From a record high annual growth rate of 2% in 1968, it has declined to 1.4% in 2000. That is a 30% decrease in the rate of growth, and it will have significant effects on future demographic developments (UNjobs, 2005). Before stating the planning subjects at the era of counter-urbanization, it is worthwhile to justify the extent of counter-urbanization. The extent of problems and opportunities are largely dependent upon this. Unfortunately, urbanization rate in the developed nations are slower than that of the Asia, Latin American, Caribbean and African countries. Nevertheless, this rate is slowing down day by day.

UN demographer Joseph Chamie has identified the following reasons behind the decreasing trend of world population (UNjobs , 2005)

1. mortality rates have come down due to the improvement in the medical science and people's awareness.

2. people are moving to cities, life is changing; children are not as needed as they were on farms and agricultural work.

3. women are becoming educated, once they become educated, they join the labor force, they are delaying marriage, and they're delaying their first birth.

4. Tastes of the have changed.

Again, there may be different reasons behind the deurbanization process. Such as?

1. Due to the recent industrial changes, companies have moved to lower cost areas.

2. Due to the developments in transport and increased car ownership, people can get from place to place more easily.

3. With the Technological advancement--e.g. Internet etc--people can work from home.

4. Idealistic views of the idyllic countryside where there are less social problems such as crime, muggings and drugs etc. are always attractive to the people.

5. For better quality of life, people would prefer rural areas.

Moreover, geographically non-transferable assets like social relations to friends and relatives, properties, and place attachment certainly play an important role in the decision-making process of counter-urbanization (Lindgren, 2002). These reasons are very dependent upon the socio-economic conditions and politico-cultural surroundings. Due to the difference of these issues, the population transition would occur at different parts of the world at different time. For instance, Japan, USA, Italy etc. have already started loosing population. On the contrary, South Asian and sub-Saharan African countries are still growing up in their population volume. They will be the last to go through this demographic transition. And population is one of the basic determinants of the development of a region. Due to the variation of timing in the demographic transition, global inequality, migration related problems, terrorism etc. occur.

2. Transformation of Cities

The shift of humans from being predominantly rural to predominantly urban is an integral part of the demographic transition and is moving along in concert with the other parts of the demographic transition.

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