Urbanisation in the developing world occurs for two main reasons: the natural increase of population and rural to urban migration.
Natural increase of population
From Study Session 2 you will know that the population is increasing in developing countries. This natural increase is a significant cause of the growing urban population.
Explain what is meant by natural increase of population.
Natural increase of population occurs when the number of births exceeds the number of deaths.
As birth rates decline over time, according to the demographic transition model, the role of natural increase in determining the pace of urban population growth becomes less important in comparison to migration.
Rural to urban migration
In developing countries, urbanisation usually occurs when people move from villages to settle in cities in hope of gaining a better standard of living. The movement of people from one place to another is called migration. Migration is influenced by economic growth and development and by technological change (Marshall et al., 2009) and possibly also by conflict and social disruption. It is driven by pull factors that attract people to urban areas and push factors that drive people away from the countryside.
Employment opportunities in cities are one of the main pull factors. Many industries are located in cities and offer opportunities of high urban wages. There are also more educational institutions providing courses and training in a wide range of subjects and skills. People are attracted to an urban lifestyle and the ‘bright lights’ of city life. All of these factors result in both temporary and permanent migration to urban areas.
Poor living conditions and the lack of opportunities for paid employment in rural areas are push factors. People are moving away from rural areas because of poor health care and limited educational and economic opportunities as well as environmental changes, droughts, floods, lack of availability of sufficiently productive land, and other pressures on rural livelihoods.
Rural to urban migration can be a selective process, as some types of people are more likely to move than others. One of the factors involved is gender, because employment opportunities vary greatly with different jobs for men and women. Another factor is age. Young people are more likely to move to towns, with more elderly people and children left in rural areas. Selectivity in migration affects the population in both the rural and the urban areas. If more men move to towns and cities than women, this leaves a predominantly female society in rural areas.