Please explain (in bullet points) how the world's rural and urban population has changed between 1970-2010 and why.

1 Answer

pohnpei397's profile pic

pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

In answering this question, I will write in paragraphs.  You should take the points that you think are most important for your specific class and put them in bullet format.  This will allow you to answer the question in the context of your particular assignment.

The population of the world has become increasingly more urbanized in the past few decades.  In 1950, about 29% of the world’s population lived in cities.  In 1970, the figure was over 36%.  The year 2008 was the first year in which the urban population was equal to the rural population.  In that year, 50% of the world population was rural and 50% was urban.  Today, the majority of people in the world, 54%, live in urban areas.  It is projected that 67% of the world’s population in 2050 will live in cities.

There are some differences in urbanization in rich and poor countries.  In general, developed countries have much higher levels of urbanization that poorer countries do.  However, this trend is changing as even the poorer countries of the world become more urbanized.  The World Health Organization projects that the majority of people in less-developed countries will be living in cities by the year 2017.

Part of the reason for the growth of the urban population is natural increase.  This is the increase that occurs when the birth rate is higher than the death rate.  This natural increase has come about largely because of improvements in public health over the decades.

I believe that the more important cause of urbanization (at least for the purposes of most classes) is migration.  Urban populations rise and rural populations fall as people move to the cities.  The main reason for this movement is economic.  As countries’ economies become more industrialized and modernized, there is less need for farmers in rural areas and more demand for workers in urban areas.  This dynamic causes many people to leave the rural areas and look for jobs in the cities.  This process has already happened in the developed world but is still ongoing in the less-developed world.

In short, then, the percentage of the world’s population that lives in cities has increased greatly since 1970.  This is due mostly to the economic advantages of living in urban areas.