Technological development has led to major changes in the lifestyle of the world population. This has had a profound impact on economic and social life. This paper seeks to establish the global and regional trends of urbanization, development, and inequality, based on data findings.
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According to the findings, China had the highest percentage of value-added as % of GDP industry at 48 % in 2007, followed by Norway at 45%, Nigeria and Republic of Korea tied at 39%. Thus using industrialization as a measure of the rate of urbanization, these four countries appear to be the most rapidly urbanizing. The level of urbanization appears to be converging for countries in the same regions, for instance, European countries have generally high levels of urbanization as compared to African and Asian countries. Both divergence and convergence trends in urbanization can be observed for different regions. For Example, North American and European countries appear to be converging but show divergence when compared to African and or some Asian countries.
From graphical analysis a relationship can be drawn between levels of urbanization and economic development and growth, social development, social inequality, and environmental stress; countries with high levels of urbanization generally show high levels of economic growth as measured by the PPP GNI $ per capita. This mostly comes from the industry and service sectors, for instance, the United States has an 80,8% urban population and a PPP GNI per capita of $45,850. The same relationship is observed between urbanization and social development. Highly urbanized countries have high income and therefore offer better social services, these countries show better equality practices with some having a comparatively greater percentage for girl child enrolment in the primary and secondary schools. Countries with low levels of urbanization also show less economic development and have poorer social development but may show good progress in tackling gender inequality. For instance, Tanzania has a 24,2% urban population, a PPP GNI per capita of 1,200, a ratio of 97% girls to boys enrolment in primary and secondary schools (2006) and an under-five mortality rate per 1000 (2006) of 118. Thus poorer countries have lower rates of urbanization and are not sufficiently equipped to deal with social development issues.
The level of urbanization in a country is directly proportional to the level of environmental stress exerted by that particular country as measured by carbon emission. This is because urbanization accompanies the development of the industry sector. Highly urbanized countries such as the United States exert high levels of environmental stress. Generally, countries with a high value-added as % of GDP industry as shown by the 2007 statistics, have high levels of carbon dioxide emission per capita metric tons. Less urbanized, less industrialized countries emit comparatively low levels of carbon dioxide.
In this section, Canada’s overall picture regarding global urbanization, development, inequality and environmental trends will be analyzed. Canada has an 80,1% urban population as a percentage of the total population and therefore is one of the most urbanized countries in the world. For the 32 countries analyzed only 6 had higher percentages of urban population than Canada, most of them with a small margin of between o.1 to 4%. The country has a high level of economic development with a PPP GNI $ per capita of 35,310 (2007), which places it at fifth position among the 32 countries that were analyzed. Its gross domestic product per capita growth is however one of the lowest, statistics show that there was a 1.7% increase for the period 2006-07. A large percentage of its income is drawn from the service sector (69.1 %) followed by industry (28.8%) and lastly agriculture at 2.8%. However, statics collected in 2004 shows that the country has the second-highest carbon dioxide emission per capita metric tons (20.0).The data taken previously also indicate that Canada has a high life expectancy at birth for females (83 years as of 2004), a 98% ratio of girls to boys enrolment in a primary and secondary school as of the year 2006 and an under-five mortality rate per 1000 0f 6 as of the year 2006. This indicates that the country has done fairly in the provision of social services and tackling inequality.
The urban population is likely to grow fast in countries whose industry sector is developing fast. Such countries include China, Norway, North Korea and Nigeria. This indicates the South East Asia region will witness the fasted urbanization in the future. Other factors too also contribute to rural-urban migration; the search for better jobs may be responsible for a higher rate of migration, especially in the developing world.
Continued urbanization will inevitably lead to more environmental stress due to crowding and carbon emissions. It will also lead to increased social and political inequality as countries will concentrate on the majority of urban dwellers and neglect the rural populations. However, urbanization may lead to increased economic output through the development of the service and industry sectors.
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As the world continues to urbanize and seek new ways of economic development, profound effects on the environment, social and political life remain to be seen. It is the duty of the various countries to ensure that all efforts are geared towards ensuring that all these activities do not compromise the safety of future generations.
Pacione, M. (2009). Urban Geography: A Global Perspective. London: Routledge.