Population and Urbanization

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The rate of population growth and the food supplies have an inverse relationship. This was the position taken by Thomas Malthus in more than 200 years ago. In his book that was entitled An Essay On The Principle Of Population, Malthus warned that the then current rate of population growth which was based on the statistics existing in those times (18th century), would exceed the rate at which the food was supplied and produced (Smith, 2013). As a result, there was a danger of food crisis. This was commonly referred to the as Malthus theorem. The new Malthusians are in agreement with this position even in the 21st century. However, there has emerged another group that is referred to as the anti-Malthusians that contends that the rate of human growth is very slow and that the future will see very few babies being born. However, between the two, only time will tell who is correct. Today, however, one thing for sure is that there are people who are starving and do not have enough food because they have reproduced at high rate and their rates of food supplies remains constant. Population increase has led to urbanization where people are moving closer to the cities in search of better employment opportunities (Smith, 2013).

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The contention of the New Malthusians is that there are millions of people around the world who are living in extreme poverty. However, these parts of the world such as in some African and Asian countries have been decimated by famines. Indeed, the amount of food that is being produced world over has never been this much (Coontz, 2013). These famines result from the droughts, failure to use the current farming technologies, lack of knowledge on the current farming methods, and wars that disrupt the farming activities. In this regard, according to Coontz (2013), the inadequacy of food supply does not necessarily result from an issue of over population. Population in the third world countries and where most of them are the least industrialized is more than the population increase in the developed countries. Surprisingly, it would only take 40 years for the average least developed nations to double their population figures. However, it would take hundred years for a developed country to achieve the same. The reason for this is that the people in those least developed countries consider parenthood as an elevation of the status. As such, having large number of children without considering what they will eat is in itself an economic achievement.

Three basic demographic variables can be used to project population trends. These are the rate of fertility, mortality, and migration (Galor, 2011). In this regard, fertility is the average number of children that a woman bears. Mortality, on the other hand, is measured by the crude death rate. Specifically, mortality is the number of deaths occurring per 1000 population. The growth rate is calculated by considering the number of births and the number of deaths and then subtracting the net migration in what is referred to as the basic demographic equation (Galor, 2011). The growth rate of a particular population is considered by evaluating the fertility rate of women in that particular population. However, despite the declining fertility rates, the number of women in the childbearing age have increased. The population growth rate is more importantly inferred by looking at the percentages of women in the childbearing years, unanticipated events such as wars, famines, and the changes in the economy and politics of a certain country or region.

The Malthusian theory states that human beings are driven by external factors to reproduce. Therefore, unless there is a check imposed on that, the population is likely to increase exponentially. Additionally, the geometric increase in population coupled with the arithmetic increase in food supplies means that there will be a shortage in food supply. Malthus, therefore, states the calamities and events such as the wars, diseases, food shortages and the famines experienced are the positive checks on this population increase. As such, Malthus is of the view that people should delay their marriages and abstain from sex until they are able to obtain to have adequate resources to sustain a family. However, this theory by Malthus on the relationship between population increase end food supplies has been critiqued on various grounds. Some critics suppose that there have been new agricultural techniques that have resulted in the generic increase in food supply (Galor, 2011). Secondly, Malthus did not think about the issue of contraception. Thirdly, Malthus was not considerate of the fact that poverty does not always result from the increase in population but can also come from the capitalism. Finally, at his time, Malthus ignored the consumption patterns that existed in industrialized countries and indeed was quick to blame the scarcity of food and other resources on the population growth of the least developed countries (Smith, 2013).

Urbanization is the movement from the rural to the urban areas (metropolitan). In the course of urbanization, two aspects are involved. In this regard, people transform from the traditional rural agrarian societies to the contemporary bureaucratized states (modernization). Additionally, there is a transformation from the rural agricultural practices to the urban manufacturing industries (industrialization) (Pahl, 2013). After urbanization, most of the people live in communities where the residents have a place to live giving them a sense of identity and belonging, as well as making new friends and neighbors. The movement from the rural to the urban centers also results in the access of the necessities such as food and other amenities such as health and schools. Tonnies develops two types of community extremes namely the Gemeinschaft and the Gesellschaft. In Gemeinschaft, communities are small and traditional and hence feature some personal relationships and values. However, in the Gesellschaft, families are large and impersonal in the urban areas and are thereby, characterized by the formal relationships of a money economy and isolation.

Additionally, the income of the metropolitan residents is almost homogenous as well as their interests and ethnicity. However, the rate of social interaction is high among the residents of the urban areas and so is their symbolic commitment. There are also suburbs, which neighbor the areas adjacent to the main cities. According to Simmel, city life is very intense and stimulating, which causes the residents to become insensitive and hence avoid any intense relationship with the aim of protecting their privacy (Pahl, 2013). Wirth adds that urban dwellers have a way of coping with the high-density lives in the city. Fischer is of the view that urban life is a major strengthener of the special groups and promoters of diverse cultures and the subsequent encouragement of intimate social circles.

The Chicago school theory of turban development states that cities grow out of a series of circles with the circle moving out from the center (Clapson & Hutchison, 2010). In each circle, exist an activity and a residential pattern different from each other. In the urban question and social justice and city theories of urban development, urban space is scarce and socially defined. Therefore, the existence of the political and economic conflict arises over the allocation of urban space attribute the problems in the cities from the domination by the elites, which in turn creates poverty due to the exploitation of the poor. Indeed, in this theory, urbanization and modernization is the cause of poverty. Clapson & Hutchison (2010), states that Cities can be classified from their number of population or their size. In this regard, there are urbanized nations, postindustrial cities, new towns, gentrifications, indigenous cities, megacities, megapolis, dual cities etc. these Cities are affected by issues of overcrowding due to the rural migrants, infrastructural problems poverty, crimes and delinquency.

To conclude, there is relationship between population increase and the rate of food supply. However, there is a disagreement between the Malthusians and the anti-Malthusians on the nature of this relationship. Least developed countries have population increases that overpower the supply of food. As a result, poverty has increased. There are arguments for and against this proposition. However, what all agree on is that an increase in population should go hand in hand with the increase in food supply. The movement from the rural to urban areas results from the search for employment opportunities and better living conditions. However, in this field, there is a need for more research on the factors that affect this movement and how the rural areas can be modernized as as to prevent rural to urban migration. Additionally, research should be done on the correct relationship between food supply and population increase.


Clapson, M., & Hutchison, R. (2010). Research in Urban Sociology (Vol. 10). Emerald Group Publishing.

Coontz, S. H. (2013). Population theories and their economic interpretation (Vol. 8). Routledge.

Galor, O. (2011). Unified growth theory. Princeton University Press.

Pahl, R. E. (Ed.). (2013). Readings in Urban Sociology: Readings in Sociology. Elsevier.

Smith, K. (2013). The Malthusian Controversy. Routledge.

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