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Definition of the Day
Natural change
The difference between births and deaths in a population. Natural change can be an increase or decrease. See Population Terminologies

Urbanisation: Causes & Problems

New York City; src Pexels
Urbanisation is a phenomenon where a majority of people live in urban areas. Rural to urban migration is and has been the major cause of urbanisation. Urbanisation is still rampant across the world especially in developing countries. The opposite of urbanisation, counter-urbanisation, is prevalent in more developed.

Causes & Factors Affecting Urbanisation

Rural-urban migration is an umbrella cause of urbanisation covering several factors.

Push Factors

  • Lack of jobs
  • Droughts & Famines
  • Lack of services such as hospitals and schools.
  • Politics such as wars
  • Natural disasters; earthquakes, flooding, volcanoes e.t.c
  • Technological advancements pushing local people out of farming jobs e.g Green Revolution

Pull Factors

  • Availability of jobs
  • Availability of schools, hospitals, banks and other services.
  • Bright lights (urban idyll) of the city
  • Contact by other urban dwellers

The Green Revolution & Urbanisation

The Green Revolution which started in the 1950s saw the advancement in the agriculture sector especially in developing countries. Old farming methods and techniques were replaced by new advanced ones. New and improved seed varieties were introduced which yielded twice as much as the traditional ones. New and sophisticated irrigation methods were introduced. All in all, this caused a boom in agriculture.

However, rural people who worked on some of these farms were replaced by automated equipments. This caused the majority of rural settlers to flee to urban areas in search of jobs. Even today, majority of rural people in LEDCs are being pushed away because of these advancements increasing urbanisation.

Problems of Urbanisation

Urbanisation has and is causing major problems in cities across the world with more of the problems situated in LEDCs. LEDCs such as India, Bangladesh e.t.c fail to cope and handle increasing amounts of people resulting in intense urban problems. Conversely, some developed countries have managed to handle some of these problems e.g Tokyo, New York. For example, Tokyo has advanced road networks and subways to handle a high population. Furthermore, no slums are found in Tokyo compared to cities such as Delhi, Calcutta, Rio and others. Although people live in small apartments, they have managed to avoid slum growth.
More on Urbanisation Solutions


Slums or shanty houses are houses constructed of poor building materials such as cardboxes, plastics, sand e.t.c. They go by different names in different countries e.g favela in Brazil. Rural people who fail to find employment have no option but to build these cheap houses. Most of these slums have no water supply, sanitation supplies, electricity etc. As such, diseases such as typhoid and cholera are very common in these slums. Furthermore, these houses are very prone to natural hazards such as landslides, earthquakes, floods, storms and others.


Urbanisation causes high gas emissions from industries, cars and domestic houses. This causes an enhanced greenhouse over urban areas resulting in the urban heat island. As such, urban areas are more hot, rainy, foggy than the surrounding areas.

Smog occurrences are rampant in highly urbanised cities, e.g The London Great Smog of 1952. These smogs cause chronic diseases like respiratory and lung problems. Some of the smogs are intensified by temperature inversions which prevents the smoke from escaping.

Other Urban Problems

  • Limited houses causing people to live in very small apartments (e.g Tokyo) or slums
  • High traffic and human congestion e.g Delhi (India), Tokyo, New York etc
  • High crime rates
  • Water shortages
  • Waste disposal shortages resulting in garbage incineration causing pollution, dioxin, bad odours etc e.g Tokyo, Delhi

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