Urbanization of the Earth

May 20, 1970

Report Outline
Urban Effects of Population Implosion
Changing Patterns of Metropolitan Growth
Future Survival in an Urban Environment
Special Focus

Urban Effects of Population Implosion

Fast Pace of Urban Growth Around the World

Throughout the world cities and towns are growing at a pace that far outstrips the population increase of the countryside. Rapid and widespread urbanization adds another dimension to man's already serious population problem. The issue is not merely one of numbers, but of distribution. Excessive crowding brings a multitude of urban ills—air and water pollution, traffic jams, housing shortages and crime. Perhaps worst of all is the apparent inability of governments to deal with such problems.

It can be argued that the major crises facing man, from environmental pollution to crime and violence to poverty, are all related in some way to the groundswell of urbanization. Paradoxically, as human society becomes more and more urbanized, the cities themselves deteriorate at an alarming rate. The “inner cities” and downtown areas of some of the world's principal urban agglomerations are decaying shells, becoming increasingly unfit for human habitation. In city after city, the downtown area is losing population to the burgeoning suburbs. To some observers, “the age of the city seems to be at an end” at the very moment urbanization of the earth is at hand.

Rapid urbanization is not confined to the United States, nor even to industrialized countries. “Before 1850 no society could be described as predominantly urbanized, and by 1900 only-one—Great Britain—could be so regarded. Today, all industrial nations are highly urbanized, and in the world as a whole the process of urbanization is accelerating rapidly.…Clearly the world as a whole is not fully urbanized, but it soon will be.” In the past decade. Middle America (Central America and Mexico) and Tropical South America became predominantly urban. Demographers now class all of the Western Hemisphere urban—50 per cent or more of the people live in urban areas—except the underdeveloped islands of the Caribbean.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jun. 04, 2021  Rebuilding America's Infrastructure
Aug. 21, 2020  Economic Clustering
Nov. 01, 2019  Caregiving Crunch
Jul. 27, 2012  Smart Cities
Apr. 09, 2010  Earthquake Threat
Apr. 2009  Rapid Urbanization
Jun. 23, 2006  Downtown Renaissance Updated
May 28, 2004  Smart Growth
Oct. 03, 1997  Urban Sprawl in the West
Mar. 21, 1997  Civic Renewal
Oct. 13, 1995  Revitalizing the Cities
Jun. 09, 1989  Not in My Back Yard!
Apr. 28, 1989  Do Enterprise Zones Work?
Nov. 22, 1985  Supercities: Problems of Urban Growth
Jul. 23, 1982  Reagan and the Cities
Nov. 18, 1977  Saving America's Cities
Oct. 31, 1975  Neighborhood Control
Nov. 21, 1973  Future of the City
Feb. 07, 1973  Restrictions on Urban Growth
May 20, 1970  Urbanization of the Earth
Nov. 06, 1968  New Towns
Oct. 04, 1967  Private Enterprise in City Rebuilding
Feb. 10, 1965  Megalopolis: Promise and Problems
Mar. 04, 1964  City Beautiful
Aug. 21, 1963  Urban Renewal Under Fire
Jan. 21, 1959  Metropolitan Areas and the Federal Government
Jul. 30, 1958  Persistence of Slums
Dec. 09, 1953  Outspreading Cities
Nov. 22, 1952  Slum Clearance: 1932–1952
Jan. 14, 1937  Zoning of Urban and Rural Areas
Air Pollution
Regional Planning and Urbanization
Water Pollution