Chapter 14


The Urban World, 9



J. John Palen

Chapter 14: Developing Countries

• Introduction: The Urban Explosion

• Developing-Country Increases

• Rich Countries and Poor Countries

• Global Cities

• Characteristics of Third World Cities

• The 21 st Century

• Summary

Introduction: The Urban Explosion

• Roughly 90 percent of world population growth is taking place in cities

• Megacities

– Designated urban agglomerations with a population of 8 million or more

– In the 1990s the threshold was raised to 10 million

– Currently the United Nations lists 21 megacities and projects an additional 13 megacities by 2015

– Of the 414 million-plus cities, three-quarters are in the developing world

• Plan of Organization

– Particular cities may differ from the general pattern of urbanization

• Common or Divergent Paths?

– The ecology-modernization approach implies that there is a general pattern and that developing countries will in time follow the western model

– Contemporary urbanizaton in less-developed countries differs from that of North America and western Europe

• The pace of change has accelerated

• Industrialization often trails behind the rate of urban growth

• Having continued high rates of growth by natural increase

(births) as well as in-migration

• Still reflect the legacy of colonialism

Developing-Country Increases

• Roughly 70 percent of the world’s urban population of 3.5 billion live in developing countries

• The Population Reference Bureau projects that the world population in 2025 will be 8 billion people

• The combined population of the various developing countries is currently increasing by 73 million a year

• This population increase greatly exacerbates already serious problems, including those of economic development

• Exposure to alternatives and nontraditional ways of life create more demands

Figure 14.1

Population age of Developed Countries vs. Less Developed Countries,


Rich Countries and Poor Countries

• Classification as a developing country, modernizing country, less-developed country, and third world country are polite ways of saying “poor country”

• The major distinction is that one category includes the “haves” and the other the “havenots”

• Less-developed country (LDC) status is not necessarily permanent since some former

“developing” nations have moved to the developed category

Global Cities

• Until roughly 50 years ago cities largely operated each within their own national market, rather than an international market

• Urban based multinational corporations now dominate the world economy

• This is the era of global cities; cities that wherever they are located, are oriented more to the needs of multinational corporations than to the needs of the city’s inhabitants

Characteristics of Third World Cities

• Youthful Age Structure

– LDCs had young age structures with between 30 to 40 percent of the population age 15 or younger

– The consequence is that their fewer resources have to be stretched to cover double the proportion of young dependents

• Multinationals

– In developing countries workers flood into the cities, not so much because of the availability of jobs, but because of the lack of opportunity in the rural areas and small villages

– Urban unemployment rates commonly exceed onequarter of the workforce

• The Informal Economy

– Refers to the small enterprises without access to credit, banks, or formally trained personnel

– Provides a safety net for workers when times are tough

• Squatter Settlements

– Decaying central-city slums and new squatter settlements often house one-third of the entire urban population

– Shanty towns that are “illegally” occupying the land on which they are built cannot demand city services

– Demolishing settlements and relocating the urban poor in new fringe settlements is often disastrous for the poor

• Primate Cities

– A primate city is a principal city overwhelmingly large in comparison with all other cities in the country

– Most primate cities owe their development to

European colonialism

– A primate city dominates the rest of its nation economically, educationally, politically, and socially

• Overurbanization?

– A loaded term that suggests that, for the nation’s level of economic development, there is too large a portion of the nation’s population residing in cities

– It can be argued that the rapid growth of cities is a positive sign of the social and economic development of an area

The 21



• Cities in the developing world are going to continue to grow

• Squatter settlements are unavoidable

• Urban infrastructure will remain inadequate

• Political instability may be a serious problem in some countries