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Urban Growth: Concepts, Theories, Trends and Policy Response

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Franklin Obeng-Odoom

on 4 June 2014

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Transcript of Urban Growth: Concepts, Theories, Trends and Policy Response

A settlement of a certain population size
An urban area in Ghana is a settlement of 5,000 or more people (GSS, various years).
The Australian Bureau of Statistics (2012) defines an urban centre as a settlement of more than 1, 000 people with an 'urban character' (e.g., population density of at least 200 sqkm);
In USA, an urban area is a settlement of at least 2,500 people with a minimum of 500 people/sqm (O'Sullivan, 212).

No one Theory of city growth, but some theories are widely used. As discussed by Evans (1985) and adapted from Pacione (2009):
Location Theory
Agglomeration Economies
Central Place Theory
The Growth of Cities
The process of urban growth or the process by which an area becomes urbanised or the process by which the urban share of a population increases.
Rate of Urbanisation/ Urban Growth Rate
The speed with which the urban area expands in population size (cf. National Population Growth rate) Nb. An urban area is said to be growing 'rapidly' if the rate of urban growth is higher than the rate of national population growth rate

Urban Economic Growth, which refers to the rise in income levels in the urban area
Th growth of cities, which refers to how cities are formed or emerge
The expansion in the population/geographical size of urban areas
Urban Growth
Urban Economics (16235), Lecture 2 -
Urban Growth: Concepts, Theories, Trends, and Policy Responses
Franklin Obeng-Odoom, Ph.D
1. Location Theory:

The location of resources, markets, or transport
lead to the development of cities by attracting people among others to trade or settle in such locations. [Notable Theorist: Johann Heinrich von Thunen]

2.Agglomeration Economies:

The advantages of clustering/concentration (e.g., markets for sales, labour, variety of goods and services) attract
people and industries to cities. In turn, cities rise and grow
[Notable Theorist: Gunnar Myrdal, although he used the idea, 'circular and cumulative causation']

3. Central Place Theory:

Cities grow with an increase in the demand for the services they perform for adjoining settlements whose populations are growing. This also helps to explain how different cities are arranged in an urban system. [Notable Theorist: Walter Christaller]
Some Causes of Population Expansion

Population/Spatial Growth

1. Natural Increase

2. Reclassification

3. Net In-Migration
Net In-Migration
Rural-Urban Migration

Economic Theories of Migration

1. Income-based Theories
Wage Differentials between rural and urban areas cause migration
Expected wage improvement/Employment (not actual differences/employment) cause migration

2. Human Capital Theory
People migrate because of the crave for better education/improvement in their own or dependants' human capacity

3. Information Flows
The amount of information possessed/obtained determines whether to migrate. People with more information migrate and often engage in contracted migration, although people with little information may also be involved in speculative migration

4. Housing
Housing Tenure: e.g., renters can migrate more easily
Housing Quality: Poor quality housing at a destination may discourage migrants
Housing Quantity/Availability: More and affordable housing can attract migrants

Discussing broader reasons for Migration

Gravity Model:
Push and Pull factors can be used as a framework

Policy Responses
A. 1960s - 1980s - 1990s
B. 2000S

A. Restriction/Anti Urban
Restriction of Rural-Urban Migration (e.g., South African Pass System, Operation Clear our Thrash in Zimbabwe), Enforcement of Birth Control, Rural Development (Ghana)

Classic Example: China
Restricting rural-urban migration, 1960s
Wan, Xi, Shao (later, longer, fewer), early 1970s
One Child Policy, 1979/80 to date

Debate over effectiveness of the programmes
Success (using a decline in the rate of growth)
Challenge based on whether it was policy or rather economic empowerment that accounts for the reduction in numbers, especially where other countries without this policy have lower rate of growth.~ ~ ~ ~ ~~~~~~~~~
Policies to restrict urbanisation in countries such as Ghana and South Africa have similarly had limited impact.
Urbanisation is unstoppable under capitalism

Nigel Harris (1991)
the core of the process of
economic development
is the institution of structures and mechanisms for the persistent rise in the productivity of the factors of production. This involves a wrenching change of the
structure of the economy
coupled with a transformation of the quality and composition of the labour force. Such radical changes in sectoral productivity require the
concentration of factors like finance, commerce, wholesale, markets and trade
. In like manner, the transformation of some other activities like agriculture requires dispersal of redundant labour. These spatial and sectoral differences and their potential for different scale economies
spark off and maintain the process of urbanisation

in a country’s quest for economic development.
Criticisms of Existing Frameworks
Income is not the sole/always the main determinant
Failure to take into account broader measures such as political factors, or natural disaster. Not all migrants are 'economic migrants'.

The assumption that it is the low-income alone who migrate ought to be problematised. Migrants are typically richer than those who stay behind (see various papers in 'Temporary Migration in Africa: Views from the Global South', African Review of Economics and Finance, vol. 5, no.1. ).

The assumption that migration is undertaken by individuals only is too simple.

Often migration is group/network-based. One person may go first, but the decision was not one based solely on individual economic decisions.
E.g., the sub-urbanisation of Lidcombe and Strathfield and how Korean migrants move as families or 'Koreans'. Note also the existence of distinctive nationalities in certain suburbs in Sydney (Han and Han, 2010).

The assumption that urbanisation is always rural to urban is too simple. The trend can be the opposite and there can be 'counter urbanisation', urban-urban, or even 'cyclical' migration
(see various papers in 'Temporary Migration in Africa: Views from the Global South', African Review of Economics and Finance, 2013, vol. 5, no.1. and various papers in 'Urbanity, urbanism, and urbanisation in Africa', African Review of Economics and Finance, 2011, vol.3, no.1 ).

Migration can be influenced by populations outside the national boundaries too (e.g., international migration into Sydney).

'New urbanology'

Economic growth is considered priority/most important ;
Sustainability is seen as the use of modern technology ('smart city', 'cities as airports - aerotropolis; greenurbia, etc)
Technical and business solutions to urban problems (Davidson and Gleeson, 2013).

Third World Cities becoming 'globalising cities' (see Grant, 2009). Lagos is even being classified as a globalising fashion city (Highlife Magazine, 2014).
B. Pro-Cities, 2000s -

Cities as engine of growth'

Global Cities of Finance declared

Growing Entrepreneurial Urbanism/Governance

Global cities becoming Global city-regions
The Demographic Transition suggests that other factors may be more important as a driver of urban growth.

Reclassification or Redefinition of 'urban':
Changing the statistical definition of 'urban'. If the urban threshold for a settlement is statistically reduced, many former towns and villages can suddenly become 'cities'. Their population might not have grown, but there would be 'urban growth', by definition.
Natural Increase
: With an increase in
birth rate
in urban areas, their population may rise.
Death Rate
: A fall in the death rate in cities can also help in determining urban growth, so the balance of forces, between life and death, can determine urban growth. The tendency for both the birth and the death rate to decline in the process of economic development is called
demographic transition
(Pacione, 2009).

Sources used (excluding those substantially acknowledged in the frames/slides/lecture)

Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2012, 'Urban Centre and Locality (UCL)'
http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Latestproducts/05773C1D8C9F2022CA257A98001399F7?opendocument (accessed on March 8, 2014).

Davidson, K. and Gleeson, B. (2013). “The urban revolution that isn’t: The political economy of the ‘New Urbanology’”, Journal of Australian Political Economy, no. 72, pp. 52- 79.

Evans A.W., 1985, Urban Economics: An Introduction, Bassil Blackwell, New York.

Grant R, 2009, Globalizing City: The Urban and Economic Transformation of Accra, Ghana, Syracuse University Press, New York.

Han J.J. and Han G-S, 2010, ‘The Koreans in Sydney’, Sydney Journal, vol. 2, no.2, pp. 25-35.

Harris N, 1991, City, Class and Trade Social and Economic Change in the Third World, I. B. Tauris and Co. Ltd, London.

Highlife, 2014, Highlife, British Airways, London.

O’Sullivan A, 2012, Urban Economics, McGraw-Hill Irwin, Boston.

Pacione M, 2009, 'Urban Geography: A Global Perspective, Third Edition, Routledge, London.

Rural development programs continue, as do programs to spread population (e.g., certain visa programs in Australia).

But, overall, it seems the famous urbanisation-economic Development nexus debate is losing steam, but the debate on the rise of cities must now begin :)
Cities everywhere arise because of the individual economic calculation of rural migrants.
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