5 Problems of Urbanization Explained

Problems of urbanization are; environmental degradation, excessive population density, economic inflation, resource inadequacy, unemployment and crime.

This article discusses the problems of urbanization, as follows;





1). Environmental Degradation (as one of the Problems of Urbanization)

Urbanization is directly linked to various forms of environmental degradation, including water and air pollution, and soil degradation.

Water and air quality can reduce in urban areas as a result of unsustainable human activities that include electricity generation, manufacturing and transport.

The ripple effects of such degradation often occur in form of a gross decrease in inhabitable areas and usable resources; so that water and housing may become scarce [5].

Urbanization causes soil degradation through deforestation, flooding and erosion facilitation, and unsustainable waste disposal, among others.

Deforestation is itself one of the earliest and most common forms of degradation that accompany urbanism. It involves large-scale removal of vegetation (especially forest plants like trees and shrubs) as land is converted for human use.

Not only does urbanism-induced deforestation affect the environment, it also affects biodiversity as a result of habitat fragmentation and destruction.

When waste management facilities and practices like landfills and recycling respectively, are either not implemented or improperly implemented, it can cause severe degradation of the environment.

This can be especially worsened by the high rates of waste production in urban areas.

Environmental degradation causes poor conditions and quality of life for urban dwellers; and is the most prominent cause of slum development.

Generally, environmental problems caused by urbanism are; water and air pollution, soil degradation, land loss, deforestation, air pollution, and climate change.

Other problems like desertification, and hazards like urban heat island effect, can be facilitated by such degradation.

Problems of Urbanization: Environmental Degradation (Credit: SuSanA Secretariat 2009 .CC BY 2.0.)
Problems of Urbanization: Environmental Degradation (Credit: SuSanA Secretariat 2009 .CC BY 2.0.)





2). Excessive Population Density

Urbanization leads to increase in population in any region where it occurs, as people are influenced to migrate toward urban regions due to the socioeconomic prospects such as employment and commercial opportunity [1].

While this population growth is helpful to increase the available workforce in cities and drive economic development, urbanization can lead to overpopulation in cases where available resources in urban areas are inadequate to support the growing population.

Overpopulation is a major urban problem because it can be linked to many other problems that occur in urban areas, such as economic recession, inflation, crime and environmental degradation.

As earlier stated, when urban population density is excessively high, it can place a strain on available water, food, energy resources, and infrastructure, thereby increasing the risk of resource depletion, poverty; unemployment, and general poor living conditions.

Overpopulation is counteractive toward the purpose of urbanization, since it can degrade the economy, societal and environmental conditions of metropolises.

In addition to these, unhealthy competition, conflict, and geopolitical problems are likely to arise in urban areas where population density is unsustainable.





3). Economic Inflation (as one of the Problems of Urbanization)

Generally, urbanization affects the economy in a positive manner, so that GDP per capita is often higher with higher urbanization rates.

The role of urbanization in causing economic growth is however mostly visible on a holistic scale both in terms of time and geographic span.

Within urban areas, it is not uncommon for urbanization to cause economic inflation.

Urbanization causes inflation because of the concentration of large populations in urban areas and their dependence on goods and services produced and/or distributed mostly within the urban environment.

This high demand dynamic, coupled with higher commercialization and currency circulation rates in urban areas, causes the goods and services to increase in cost.

Urban economic inflation contributes to other urbanization problems like low quality of life and insecurity.





4). Resource Inadequacy

Urbanization affects resources by increasing the demand for them, for regional development, economic production, and to meet the needs of the urban population. This often ultimately leads to resource depletion.

Resources that get depleted as a result of urbanization include; water, land, raw materials and energy resources.

Water scarcity is one of the more common forms of resource inadequacy in many urban regions, including those that occur in developed economies like China, where lack of adequate water resources is one of the most serious urban problems [8].

Excessive consumption can further decrease the resource capacity and vitality of the ecosystem, thereby worsening urban resource inadequacy. An example of this is the release of greenhouse gases from industries as fossil fuels are burnt during the conversion of raw materials to usable products [7].

The greenhouse emissions can lead to climate change, which could further exacerbate issues like drought that can worsen the scarcity of resources like water and soil [2].





5). Unemployment and Crime (as one of the Problems of Urbanization)

Unemployment and high crime rate are among a collection of disadvantageous factors that can accompany urbanization [3].

Urbanization leads to crime when population growth in urban areas facilitates resource shortages, inequality, and economic inflation [4].

Crimes that are induced by such conditions in urban areas include vandalism, illicit drug marketing and consumption, theft, armed robbery and kidnapping, among others. Because they are socioeconomically and politically motivated, the rate of urban crime can be directly correlated to that of unemployment and economic difficulty.

Problems of Urbanization: Unemployment and Crime (Credit: El mundo de Laura 2009 .CC BY 2.0.)
Problems of Urbanization: Unemployment and Crime (Credit: El mundo de Laura 2009 .CC BY 2.0.)







Problems of urbanization are;

1. Environmental Degradation

2. Excessive Population Density

3. Economic Inflation

4. Resource Inadequacy

5. Unemployment and Crime






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2). He, C.; Liu, Z.; Wu, J.; Pan, X.; Fang, Z.; Li, J.; Bryan, B. A. (2021). “Future global urban water scarcity and potential solutions.” Nature Communications 12(1). Available at: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-25026-3. (Accessed 28 December 2022).

3). Jalil, H. H.; Iqbal, M. M. (2010). “Urbanisation and Crime: A Case Study of Pakistan.” Pakistan Development Review 49(4). Available at: https://doi.org/10.2307/41428686. (Accessed 28 December 2022).

4). Malik, A. (2016). “Urbanization and Crime : A Relational Analysis.” Economics. Available at: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Urbanization-and-Crime-%3A-A-Relational-Analysis-Malik/a0906d4d7fb65f135b6c28d6dcba9a2bfed52759. (Accessed 28 December 2022).

5). Mpambije, C.; Nuhu S. (2016). “Urban Settlements and their Implications to Peoples Health in Tandale, Dar es Salaam Tanzania.” Medicine. Available at: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Water-and-Sanitation-Services-in-Informal-Urban-and-Mpambije-Nuhu/c2c1d80402691e85f1679df1703ec112cb2b30ac. (Accessed 29 December 2022).

6). Saheed, Z. S.; Adeneye, S.; Ibrahim, G. U.; Alexander, A. A. (2018). “Rural-Urbanisation Effect on Inflationary Pressure and Unemployment in Urban Areas of Lagos State, Nigeria.” Economics. Available at: https://www.eajournals.org/journals/international-journal-of-development-and-economic-sustainability-ijdes/vol-6-issue-2-april-2018/rural-urbanisation-effect-on-inflationary-pressure-and-unemployment-in-urban-areas-of-lagos-state-nigeria/. (Accessed 28 December 2022).

7). Satterthwaite, D. (2011). “How Urban Societies Can Adapt to Resource Shortage and Climate Change.” Philosophical Transactions of The Royal Society A Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences 369(1942):1762-83. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsta.2010.0350. (Accessed 28 December 2022).

8). Wu, P.; Tan, M. (2012). “Challenges for sustainable urbanization: a case study of water shortage and water environment changes in Shandong, China.” Procedia Environmental Sciences 13:919–927. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.proenv.2012.01.085. (Accessed 28 December 2022).

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