Episode 6: Urbanization: Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad City?

Cities are overcrowded. The world is not.

Innovation, Collaboration, and Economic Development are possible only in cities. Why is that?

When more people are grouped together, they are able to put their minds together and come up with better ideas and ways to improve in their society. Because of this, the city is able to offer more opportunites, so people move there. According to the UNFPA on urbanization:

In principle, cities offer a more favourable setting for the resolution of social and environmental problems than rural areas. Cities generate jobs and income. With good governance, they can deliver education, health care and other services more efficiently than less densely settled areas simply because of their advantages of scale and proximity.

The acclaimed economist, Julian Simon, agrees with the fact that there is a direct link between community size and human improvement:

“It is a simple fact that the source of improvements in productivity is the human mind, and a human mind is seldom found apart from a human body. And because improvements — their invention and their adoption — come from people, it seems reasonable to assume that the amount of improvement depends on the number of people available to use their minds.”

— Julian Simon, The Ultimate Resource

You claim that birthrates are lower in urban areas than they are in the country. Who says so?

Many studies show that birthrates are lower in urban areas than in rural areas.

This document from the UN shows the urban vs. rural birthrates for a lot of countries (See table 11).

Another study from the DHS (Demographic and Health Surveys) website. They did an extensive fertility study in Malawi in 2000.

This study shows a drastic difference between rural and urban dwelling women. The Total Fertility Rates for rural vs. urban being 6.7 and 4.3 respectively.

The promise of better jobs, prestigious schools, modern healthcare, and high culture calls people to leave the countryside and move to the city.

The urban population is on the rise. (see graph here)

Since 2008, more than half the world’s population has become urbanized. There is a clear rural to urban draw going on globally. Given the connection between population numbers and human improvement (see question 1 above), it makes sense that the urban population percentage is growing. There are more opportunities in the city than in the countryside.