Mass urbanization

On Economist’s View Mark Thoma writes about the millions of people moving from the countryside to the cities in poor countries, quoting an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times,

Mega-cities, mega-problems

Billions in the developing world are shifting from rural to urban areas, bringing poverty to dangerous new levels…

Their misery will spill beyond their borders, and if that happens, our urban age risks becoming a global nightmare.

The writer has got it wrong. It is not migration to cities that bring poverty to dangerous levels. People move from country to city because they are less poor in the city. Poverty is more visible in cities, but is is extremely rare to see starving people in cities even in very poor countries. When you see starving people, it’s in the countryside.

One reason that the urban poor are better off than the rural poor is that ruling elites are afraid of angry urban slum dwellers “spilling beyond their borders”. Rural slums are no threat.


One thought on “Mass urbanization

  1. if there is an open system, and people are given opportunities, then poverty will be eliminated. Open systems by their nature are volatile and and changing – the status quo cannot be depended upon.


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