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



Introduction: The Urban Explosion

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


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


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


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