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Parviz Khalatbari (2000)

The Process of Worldwide Urbanization – A Central Problem of the 21st Century*

In: Zeitschrift für Bevölkerungswissenschaft, Vol. 25, 3-4/2000, p. 459-476, Opladen: Verlag Leske + Budrich, ISSN: 0340-2398

The second half of the 20th century and the first quarter of the 21st century will make a unique chapter of demographic history of mankind. In this period (1950-2030) the world population increases from 2.5 billion to 8.5 billion. In only 80 years the world population will increase by 6 billion people. At the same time this process shows a singular tendency: The heavyweight of concentration of world population shifts more and more towards the urban areas. A worldwide urbanization process is going on.

In 1950, the urban population of the world amounted to 750 million people. It made some 30 percent of the world population at that time. Till 2030 the world urban population will increase to 5.1 billion. That will be 60 percent of the world population then. And the process continues further on.

The great part of the urban population is concentrated in the "urban agglomerations". The numbers of great cities and mega-cities increase rapidly. The major part of this process of urbanization takes place in those regions which are to be labelled as underdeveloped countries. The number of urban population in these regions amounted to 300 million people in 1950. Till 2030 it will increase to four billion people. That will be 80 percent of the world urban population.

The "urbanization" of developing countries, its tempo and size as well as its consequences will be one of the major problems of the 21st century. To meet the needs of growing urban population with food, safe water, housing, energy and raw materials as well as the elementary medical care, sanitation, education and above all the creation of jobs for rapid growing labour force are only some problems. For their solution, we have no adequate conception.

* Original title: Weltverstädterungsprozess – Ein zentrales Problem des 21. Jahrhunderts (full text in German only)

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