Comparison of Urbanization Trends USA Japan and Rapidly Developing Asia Pacific Economies

Typically, when discussing urbanization in the Asia-Pacific, demographers and urban geographers emphasize the current scale of urbanization and growth of large cities in the region (see, for example, Douglass 1998; Douglass 2000; Lo and Marcotullio 2000; Lo and Yeung 1996; United Nations Population Fund 2007). During the first half of the twentieth century, when the now developed world was rapidly urbanizing, populations increased from 300 to 400 million in all of Europe (a 0.7% growth rate)7 and from 90 to 170 million in the USA (a 1.2% annual average growth rate). Compare these population sizes to those of contemporary developing Asia-Pacific, with China in the lead (approximately 1.3 billion), followed by Indonesia (approximately 215 million), Philippines (approximately 85 million), Vietnam (approximately 82 million) and Thailand (approximately 65 million). Each of these economy ;s populations, between 1970 and 2000, has grown at over 1.4% annually, and some have experienced population growth exceeding 2.0% annually (Indonesia and Vietnam).

Within the region, since the 1980s, massive populations have moved into cities. From 1980 to 2005 approximately 335 million people were added to Chinese cities and in Indonesia,

7 Europe's average annual rates of population increase were highest between 1800 and 1900, as many countries in this part of the world were the first industrializers. During this period growth rates reached 1.0%.

TS 60

TS 60

Gdp Per Capita Between Europe And Asia

0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10 000 12 000 14 000 16 000 18 000 20 000 GDP per capita

Fig. 3.2. Comparative urbanization levels by GDP per capita, USA and selected Asia-Pacific economies. [Plate 1]

_

USA

—0-

Indonesia

—A—

Malaysia

X

Thailand

—*—

South Korea

—•—

Vietnam

—•—

People's Republic of China

Philippines

Japan

0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10 000 12 000 14 000 16 000 18 000 20 000 GDP per capita

Fig. 3.2. Comparative urbanization levels by GDP per capita, USA and selected Asia-Pacific economies. [Plate 1]

during this same 25-year period, 74 million additional people were added to the nation 's urban areas. Indeed, Eastern and Southeast Asia experienced a growth of 375 and 152 million people, in their respective region's cities during this period (United Nations 2006b).

The swelling of the urban population has resulted in the rise of large and megacities. In 1980, in China, for example, there were approximately 42 cities of larger than 1 million and no city in the country was larger than 10 million. By 2005, there were approximately 95 cities larger than 1 million and two were in the megacity category (Shanghai and Beijing). Within the region, in 1980, there were approximately 67 cities of larger than 1 million and one (Tokyo) larger than 10 million. By 2005, there were 131 cities of larger than 1 million and six (Tokyo, Shanghai, Jakarta, Osaka-Kobe, Beijing and Manila) larger than 10 million (United Nations 2006b).

McGee (2007) has suggested that these large urban areas continue to grow and are the force behind the growth of many small and medium sized cities that are located close by or sometimes within the urban field of the megacities.8 These mega-urban regions are new and are now and will continue to be part of the urban landscape in the region.

Certainly, the scale of urbanization and the size of urban centres are important considerations in explaining differences between the Western experience and what those of the developing world are currently undergoing. At the same time, however, there are indications of other differences, not as often discussed, which are nevertheless significant. These include the timing and speed of urbanization.

By timing, we refer to the economic income level at which urbanization levels change. What is often missed in the contemporary literature is that urbanization in many parts of the world is occurring at lower levels of economic income than in the past (Fig. 3.2 [Plate 1]). That is to say, that at any particular GDP per capita level, most countries within the Asia-Pacific region are at higher levels of urbanization than was the USA. One important

8 An opposite view is that megacities are not growing, but that the medium and smaller sized cities in the world are the faster urban growth zones (United Nations Population Fund 2007). McGee's argument suggests that we need to look beyond political boundaries, as most of the so-called rapidly developing cities are in the economic and social orbit of the megacities.

exception is Thailand, whose urbanization and economic development patterns are particularly unique in that the country has increased its wealth, but not urbanized in proportion. This may be due to the unique primacy of Bangkok within the urban system of the country and the lower appeal of other major urban centres in the country (Muscat 1994).

The other factor of importance is the speed with which urbanization is occurring. The differences in speed can be seen at the national level and in terms of individual city growth rates. Table 3.3 compares urbanization rates, measured in terms of increases in per cent urban levels over time, of the USA and several Asia-Pacific economies, at similar levels of economic development. In each case, except for Thailand, urbanization levels increased at faster rates than they did for the USA.

We can see further evidence of the rapid speed of urbanization in the region by comparing the experiences of Japan, South Korea and the USA. The USA was approximately 37% urban in 1895 and by 2000 it reached 77% urban. This means the nation experienced an increase in its urbanization level by 40% in more than 100 years. Japan was approximately 38% urban in 1940 and by 2000 it reached 78% urban. This country increased the urban share of the population also by 40%, but experienced this change over a 60-year period. South Korea, on the other hand, was approximately 42% urban in 1950 and by 2000 it was 81% urban. This economy experienced an increase in its urbanization level of approximately 40%, but did so within 50 years or half the time experienced by those in the USA.

Moreover, differences in speed of urban change can also been seen in terms of individual city growth rates. Within the USA, New York City, one of the fastest growing cities during the nation )s industrial development, grew from 200 000 residents in 1830 to more than 1 million in 1860, reaching almost 7 million in the late 1920s when immigration constraints came into effect. During one day at the height of an immigrant wave in 1907, approximately 12 000 people queued up on Ellis Island for entry to the US and during that year 1.2 million people were received in New York (Muller 1993). Manhattan Island reached 2.3 million people by 1910 and according to Ken Jackson, noted New York City historian, by that time had obtained residential densities higher than any city in the world to that point, and possibly since then. Urban growth in parts of the Asia-Pacific has been even more spectacular. For example, around 1980, Shenzhen, China, had a population of approximately 350 000. Today, the city's population has reached 8 million, translating into a 12.3% annual population growth rate for 27 years.

Table 3.3. Comparative change in urbanization level at similar income ranges (per cent/year) .

Table 3.3. Comparative change in urbanization level at similar income ranges (per cent/year) .

South Korea

1.46

0.49

China

0.51

0.47

Thailand

0.24

0.51

Malaysia

0.79

0.50

lndonesia

0.94

0.47

Philippines

0.92

0.49

Japan*

0.87

0.47

* For this analysis, Japanese data includes the range 1920-2000. In 1960, the year that the energy data began, Japan was approximately 63% urbanized.

* For this analysis, Japanese data includes the range 1920-2000. In 1960, the year that the energy data began, Japan was approximately 63% urbanized.

These differences in timing and speeds of urbanization associate with significant differences in the urban energy transitions experienced by Asia-Pacific economies and those of the USA. We review the comparisons of aspects of these transitions in the next section.

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