URBANIZATION – a necessary evil?

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During my first walk through Bangkok I realized two things. Firstly, the chaotic structure of Bangkok. Secondly, the dazzling ability of the Bangkok traffic participants to survive in the anarchic traffic madness. The latter of the two can be disregarded for the purpose of this blog though.

But where does this disorder stem from? My educated guess is urbanization.

Urbanization is described as the increase in populace that is living within cities. Therefore, two major types of urbanization play a role. One being; the migration of people from the rural areas into the city sides, and the other being, the erection of cities in the non-urbanized country sides. Both scenarios will increase the amount of people living in cities and can therefore be regarded as the procedure to which I refer to as urbanization.

Industrialization and centralization of economy & government started during the late 1940s and was reason for an alarming disproportional outbreak in urbanization during the fifties and the sixties 1. The growth of population and migration into the capital city of Thailand resulted in some social and infrastructural problems with which Bangkok is still struggling. Simply put, the masses of people – 6.902 million, create too much demand for the private and public services to handle.

The large quantity of people coming into the city create overpopulation to an extent in which supply is over-strained; leading to quite a few problems. If too many job seeking people come to the same place, the job market is flooded. At first businesses might exploit upon this, however, the capacity of employment is not limitless and people will not find a job if the trend continues. Two problems arise, unemployment and a a wage average that fluctuates around the minimum wage.

Accordingly, the gap between poor and rich will increase and poverty will lead to social imbalances that lead to crime. Additionally, a city with too many inhabitants creates waste and pollution2. The capacity of public transport in Bangkok cannot sustain the demand and is reason for the many cars that congest the streets3. I conclude that the quality of the life-standard in urbanized regions are being deteriorated.

Another cause for urbanization is the focus of large industries on rural regions that are, strategically speaking, attractive because they either have access to natural resources or their geographical position is valuable for trade. In those cases – often times – small towns are erected around the area, due to the fact that companies hire their international staff to operate the business. Shamefully enough, this leads to a loss of great subcultures that have ruled the region in the past 4. The ideas, norms and values of rural cultures will dissolve which I regard as a great loss. Once gone, they cannot be re-erected.

There are two main things that need to be considered in the future, especially with respect to the increase in the world population. Because, even though urbanization is described above as something negative, it will become a necessity in the future to accommodate the new inhabitants of this earth that yet need to be born. The first aspect, and arguably the easiest one, is the proper and sustainable planning of developing cities. Governments need to get involved when it comes to organizing new arising metropolises. Laws need to be passed and developing countries should implement a governmental body that is in charge of the given matter. Together with experts, the infrastructure must be determined before public and private institutions are being build to ensure that a city can operate efficient on the long run.

The more challenging task, in my humble opinion, is organizing the already existing cities that have a disordered infrastructure. Since the overpopulation of, in this case Bangkok, is cause for some major problems like pollution, poverty, crime and unemployment one should not invest too much money in temporary fixing those problems but rather into extinguishing the cause of all evil. People could be dislocated to balance the population density as it was described in one of my previous blogs. However, overpopulation in this case is strongly based on people migrating into the urban areas. This development is mostly caused by job opportunities and the convenience cities have to offer supply wise. If the infrastructure towards the rural regions would be extended to the level that the costs of moving to the city would not outweigh the benefits, further migration and potential immigrating could be incentivized.

  1. http://archive.unu.edu/unupress/unupbooks/uu11ee/uu11ee0z.htm
  2. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.120.7666&rep=rep1&type=pdf
  3. http://urbantimes.co/2012/08/the-outcomes-of-rapid-urbanization-in-thailand/
  4. http://ibac-conference.org/ISS%20&%20MLB%202013/Papers/ISS%202013/B6261..docx.pdf

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