Urbanization Definition, Causes, Effects and Importance Explained

Urbanization is the progressive conversion of local and natural ecosystems to modernized zones due to rapid human influx and socioeconomic growth. This article discusses urbanization definition, causes, effects, characteristics and importance, as outlined below;



-Urbanization Definition: 4 Ways to Define Urbanization

-Causes of Urbanization

-Urbanization Effects

-Characteristics of Urbanization

-Importance of Urbanization

-Rapid Urbanization in Sociology






Urbanization Definition: 4 Ways to Define Urbanization

Urbanization (alternatively spelled urbanisation) is the process whereby large populations of people from diverse cultures come to occupy a given area, so that most regional custom and natural ecosystems are converted to meet the populations’ needs.

Urbanization Definition: Occupation by Large, Diverse Populations (Credit: Chris Amelung 2006 .CC BY 2.0.)
Urbanization Definition: Occupation by Large, Diverse Populations (Credit: Chris Amelung 2006 .CC BY 2.0.)




The above definition lays emphasis on population as one of the drivers of urbanization.

This is an accurate approach because many of the regional characteristics urbanization are influenced by population dynamics; such as large-scale, rapid migration from rural areas [2].

It also suggests that problems like overpopulation may be likely to coincide with urbanization in many areas.

The following urbanization definition highlights some problems of urbanization;

Urbanization is a phenomenon in involving the migration of diverse populations into socioeconomically-active zones, which is associated with potential problems like overpopulation, economic recession, unemployment, inflation, housing problems, resource depletion, flooding, infrastructure inadequacy, slum development, health problems, deforestation, crime and insecurity [3].

Causes of urbanization constitute another crucial factor, which is highlighted in the urbanization definition below;

Urbanization refers to the progressive conversion of areas into metropolitan zones, as a result of factors such as rural migration due to socioeconomic opportunity, industrialization, and commercialization [1].

Lastly, urbanization definition is given based on the importance of urbanization;

Urbanization is population influx, conversion, commercialization and modernization of a given area; which is important for determining regional socioeconomic dynamics, improving general quality of life, and influencing geopolitical processes.





Causes of Urbanization

Causes of urbanization are;

1). Conflict-induced rural emigration

2). Employment opportunity

3). Industrialization

4). Commercialization

5). General modernization





Urbanization Effects

Positive urbanization effects are;

1). Regional economic development

2). Improvement of life quality

3). Increase in job opportunity

4). Infrastructure development

5). Reduction in illiteracy and poverty rates


Infrastructure Development as an Effect of Urbanization (Credit: zhenkang 2020 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)
Infrastructure Development as an Effect of Urbanization (Credit: zhenkang 2020 .CC BY-SA 4.0.)




Negative urbanization effects are;

1). Resource depletion

2). Climate change increase

3). Facilitation of hazards like urban heat islands and heat waves

4). Deforestation

5). Air pollution

6). Natural habitat loss

7). Slum development and overcrowding

8). Hike in living cost

9). Increased crime rates





Characteristics of Urbanization

Characteristics of urbanization are;

1). Modern facilities

2). Relatively-large population

3). High commercialization rate

4). Socioeconomic stratification

5). Cultural heterogeneity

6). Diversity and inclusion

7). Predominance of formal interactions





Importance of Urbanization

Areas of importance of urbanization are;

1). Increase in regional labor force

2). Economic growth facilitation

3). Influence on geopolitical processes

4). Role in sustainable development





Rapid Urbanization in Sociology

Rapid urbanization in sociology has to do with the progressive pace of socioeconomic changes that occur in areas undergoing urbanization.

From a sociological perspective, urbanization is assessed based on the economic, social and political factors at play in cities, all of which can be used to understand the characteristics of urbanization [4].

Social interactions can also be used to assess urbanization, as these are directly dictated by the changes occurring in an urbanized (or urbanizing) area.






Urbanization is a socioeconomic and environmental phenomenon whereby large heterogeneous populations occupy and develop a give area.

Causes of urbanization are; conflict-induced migration, employment opportunity, industrialization, commercialization, and general modernization.

Positive urbanization effects are; economic development, life quality improvement, increase in job opportunity, infrastructure development, and reduction in illiteracy/poverty.

Negative urbanization effects are; resource depletion, climate change increase, hazard facilitation, deforestation, air pollution, natural habitat loss, slum development, overcrowding, hike in living cost, and increased crime rate.

Characteristics of urbanization are; modern facility development, large population, high commercialization rate, socioeconomic stratification, cultural heterogeneity, diversity and inclusion, and predominance of formal interactions.

Areas of importance of urbanization are; increase in labor force, economic growth facilitation, geopolitical influence, and sustainable development role.

Rapid urbanization in sociology is evaluated based on social, political and economic interactions.






1). Ikwuyatum, G. O. (2016). “Migration and Urbanization: Exploring the Factors of the Nexus in Nigeria.” Available at: https://www.semanticscholar.org/paper/Migration-and-Urbanization%3A-Exploring-the-Factors-Ikwuyatum/eae660689149f6545435b78cb702ba7f8a95a444. (Accessed 29 December 2022).

2). Montalvo, J.; Ruiz-Labrador, E.; Montoya-Bernabéu, P.; Acosta-Gallo, B. (2019). “Rural–Urban Gradients and Human Population Dynamics.” Sustainability 11(11):3107. Available at: https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113107. (Accessed 29 December 2022).

3). Saheed, Z. S.; Adeneye, O. A.; Ibahim, G. U.; Alexander, A. A. (2018). “Rural-Urbanisation Effect on Inflationary Pressure and Unemployment in Urban Areas of Lagos State, Nigeria.” European-American Journals. 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 29 December 2022).

4). University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing (2016). Sociology: Understanding and Changing the Social World.” Available at: https://open.umn.edu/opentextbooks/textbooks/38. (Accessed 28 December 2022).

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