Is urbanization a part of globalization
Urban and rural population in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the world population, 1950, 2015 and 2050
Source: United Nations - DESA, Population Division (2014): World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision
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FactsParallel to the growth of the world population from 2.5 billion people in 1950 to 7.3 billion in 2015 and further to 9.7 billion in 2050, the proportions of the rural and urban population are also changing. In 1950 less than a third of the world's population lived in cities (29.6 percent), in 2015 it was more than half (54.0 percent). According to forecasts by the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN / DESA), the proportion will increase to 66.4 percent by 2050.
In the economically developed countries, the proportion of the urban population increased from 54.6 to 78.3 percent between 1950 and 2015 and will continue to rise to 85.4 percent by 2050. In the economically developing countries the values are lower in all years, but the process of urbanization is more dynamic: in 1950 not even a fifth of the population of the economically developing countries lived in cities (17.6 percent). Already in 2015 it was almost half (49.0 percent) and in 2050 it will be 63.4 percent according to the UN / DESA calculations. The proportion of the urban population in the economically least developed countries is comparatively low, but it is developing even more dynamically at 7.5 percent (1950), 31.4 percent (2015) and 49.5 percent (2050).
In terms of absolute figures, the world's urban population more than quintupled between 1950 and 2015 from 746 million to 3.96 billion (plus 430 percent). In 2015 there were three times as many city dwellers in the economically developing countries as in the economically developed countries. In Africa, the urban population increased 15-fold between 1950 and 2015 from 32 to 472 million people, in Asia it increased from 245 million to 2.11 billion in the same period. In China and India alone, the absolute number of urban populations in 2015 was 779 and 420 million, respectively. Despite this development, Africa and Asia were still the two regions with the lowest proportions of the urban population in 2015 (40.4 and 48.2 percent, respectively).
In 2015, half of the world's urban population lived in cities with fewer than 500,000 inhabitants (49.6 percent). According to calculations by the UN / DESA, almost every tenth city dweller lived in cities with between 500,000 and less than a million inhabitants (9.4 percent). Around a fifth of the city's population lived in cities with between one million and under five million inhabitants (21.4 percent) or in one of the 73 cities with more than five million inhabitants (19.7 percent).
According to calculations by the UN / DESA, the number of city dwellers will increase by a further 2.38 billion to 6.34 billion worldwide by 2050 (plus 60.2 percent). The regions Asia (50.4 percent) and Africa (36.4 percent) accounted for 86.8 percent of this increase. Only three countries - India, China and Nigeria - account for 36.6 percent of the absolute increase in the urban population between 2015 and 2050. In 2050, China will grow to 1.05 billion, India to 814 million and Nigeria to 295 million People live in cities. Compared to 2015, this is an increase of 394 million people in India (plus 93.9 percent). In Nigeria, at 208 million people, there are only about half as many city dwellers as in India - the number of city dwellers in Nigeria is still increasing by 237 percent (China: plus 270 million or plus 34.7 percent).
The main reasons for the absolute and relative increase in the urban population in the economically developing countries are the high population growth on the one hand and the influx of people from rural areas on the other. In the least economically developed countries in particular, there is often the problem that the cities are overwhelmed by the influx of poor rural populations. In many cases, the expansion of the infrastructure is lagging behind the expansion of the cities. In some cases, this goes so far that elementary public tasks - such as water supply - are not adequately fulfilled. The uncontrolled immigration to the cities, the rapid population growth and the resulting excessive demands on the infrastructure mean that large parts of the urban population live in slums: According to the UN / DESA, it is estimated that almost everyone lived in the economically developing countries in 2012 third city dwellers - a total of around 860 million people - in slums with poor water supplies or sanitation, inadequate hygiene and often a lack of government protection.
Data SourceUnited Nations - Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2014/2015): World Urbanization Prospects: The 2014 Revision, World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision
Terms, methodological notes or reading aidsFurther information on the size of the Cities and the so-called megacities get here ...
When defining the terms urban and rural population, the UN / DESA follows the respective definitions of the individual states.
Unless otherwise stated, the information given here relates to the middle variant of the UN / DESA projections.
China excluding Hong Kong and Macau
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