Urbanization as a world and spatial process - Economic...

Urbanization as a global and spatial process

The pace of urbanization is not the same in different countries. For example, the United States in this respect is much ahead of the world as a whole. In 1800, 5% of the population lived in cities, in 1970 the proportion of urban residents reached 70%, and by 2000 - 80%.

Is it possible to find something in common in the pace of urbanization of different countries? To do this, use the S-shaped urbanization curve, relating to the category of logistic curves. Slow growth in the early XIX century. are replaced by a steep rise in the second half of this century, after which a gradual slowdown occurs.

What forces support the modern rapid growth of cities around the world? If we leave aside the natural growth of the already existing population of cities, then we face a difficult and puzzling question: why do people increasingly insist on being crowded into such a dense mass that the environment can no longer satisfy life's needs harmoniously? Most large cities of the country are in the grip of the most acute social problems associated with the growth of crime, drug addiction, impoverishment and increasing pollution of the environment. In general, apparently, the larger the city, the more serious these problems. But with an increase in the size of the city, economic returns also increase (if the average income per inhabitant is taken as a measure.)

The change in the number of urban and rural population of the United States as a whole is presented in Table. 5.2.

Table 5.2

Characteristics of the population


Population, million people




















































2010 (on January 1)




2010 (on October 14)












Note: The percentage of the urban population of the total population is 73-74, and rural - 26-27.

The process of urbanization continues to deepen, because the benefits that the concentration of the population gives significantly exceed its costs. Urban concentration (one of the fundamental features of the city) is the high concentration of various objects and activities and associated population in a limited area. The main benefit from the concentration of people in cities is manifested in the so-called agglomeration economy, which is generated by servicing a growing sales market within a small, compact area. Savings of scale lead to a reduction in the cost of producing a unit of production, and the territorial proximity of buyers and sellers in cities reduces transportation costs.

The well-known saying of A. Smith that specialization depends on the size of the market is visually realized in a modern city. Investigating the information flows inside the city, geographers discovered the links between extreme specialization and extremely high communication skills. The stable existence of distinctly specialized business and business complexes is directly dependent on the availability of direct contacts and other forms of information transfer and exchange. The activity of each person depends on the ease of communication with other persons, and the actions of groups of people merge into a whole range of specialized activities.

One of the main factors of urban growth is the centripetal forces of agglomeration economy. However, the resulting benefits do not increase indefinitely together with the increase in the size of the city. There may come a time when, as a result of the city's growth, raw materials and finished products will have to be transported at such considerable distances that increasing transport costs will block the gains that result in lower production costs. The crowding in the cities will constantly increase, internal transport costs will increase, and the population will be increasingly at risk of contracting infectious diseases; In addition, the general conditions of life can worsen due to the growth of crime. All these factors generate centrifugal forces that seek to stop the concentration process and reduce the population density.

The city's export base, like the country as a whole, creates those activities that allow the sale of goods or services or investing capital outside its immediate borders. In connection with this, such activities are called basic. Although the cities do not have as clear boundaries as the states, one can mentally make up for them a balance of trade, i.e. import and export of products. To describe the ratio of the number of jobs in the export sector of the city's economy to the total population, geographers use the urban base ratio . If out of 60 thousand people living in the city, 10 thousand work in the export sector, the base employment index will be equal to 1/6.

There are restrictions that control the number of people in the household and services sectors.

The Zone Constraint limits the population by setting the upper limit of population density in any given territory within the city; Upon reaching this threshold, new housing construction or expansion of enterprises in the service sector should be moved to a new location. Threshold limit determines the minimum level of demand, measured by the number of people in the home sector, at which a particular service enterprise may arise (for example, a hospital).

Urbanization as a spatial process. Geographers are particularly interested in the role of the urbanization process in changing the degree of accessibility. The effect of agglomeration economies is manifested in conditions not only of a large but also easily accessible market. During the last 200 years, during which the world level of urbanization increased 10 times, the time spent on movement and transportation costs actually decreased even more. Let's consider how the increase in the degree of accessibility at the intercity and intercity levels is reflected.

Urban convergence (implosion). By borrowing the appropriate term from the astronomer F. Hoyle, we can name this differentiated process of relative compression of space by the implosion of cities. As large cities converge (converge ) faster than small ones, there is, as it were, a relative distance ( divergence ) of large and small cities. The rapidity and self-reinforcing nature of spatial implosion are the main factors in the modern rapid growth of large cities. F. Forer traced the implosion of New Zealand cities in the last 30 years. Based on the change in flight time between individual cities, he was able to map the changing structure of New Zealand; while it turned out that the larger cities were getting closer, and the smaller ones seemed to be pushed aside. The Forerian time dependency maps for the South Pacific reflect a completely curious situation: the largest Australian city of Sydney was located closer to the largest city of New Zealand than many small New Zealand cities.

Spatial contact forms. Swedish scientists T. Hoegersstrand, G. Thornquist and others approached the process of urbanization on the other side. They drew attention to the rising during the XX century. the role of the Quaternary sector in the structure of urban growth.

Despite the development of all types of telecommunications, in this sector there is still a need for direct personal contacts. Thus, when compiling scientific research programs, there is often a need for informal meetings of experts that are not constrained by formalities. Note that such meetings, as a rule, occur as if by chance, not on strictly fixed days, and the number and composition of their participants are not constant.

Under these conditions, the ease of communication between cities becomes crucial. Having analyzed in detail the records of businessmen about upcoming business meetings, geographers were able to: a) trace the degree of interconnection of different industries and activities having different geographic locations; b) rank cities by their degree of preference for making contacts (contact scale). Comparison of the number of trips and the number of contacts, taking into account the costs associated with them, made it possible to reveal a very detailed area picture of the phenomenon under study. If the most contactable the city of the country - its capital Moscow - to assign the index of 100 on the preferences scale of contacts, it is possible to compare other cities by this indicator. It turns out that some smaller cities in close proximity to Moscow have indexes from 80 to 90; For St. Petersburg - the second most important city - it is 78. Least contactable separate cities of the Far East and Siberia, they can be assigned an index of 36.

Multiple repeated researches allow to make maps of changes of availability of cities in time and thus to foresee the implosion of cities.

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