The Metropolitan Century

The Metropolitan Century

Understanding Urbanisation and its Consequences You do not have access to this content

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Author(s):
OECD
18 Feb 2015
Pages:
128
ISBN:
9789264228733 (PDF) ;9789264228726(print)
DOI: 
10.1787/9789264228733-en

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The report provides an outline of recent and likely future urbanisation trends and discusses the consequences. The world is in the middle of an urbanisation process that will cause urbanisation rates to rise from low double digit rates to more than 80% by the end of the century. It argues that this is both a great opportunity and a great challenge, as decisions taken today will affect the lifes of people for a long time to come. The report aims at explaining why cities exist, and what can make them prosperous and function well. It also discusses whether cities are good for residents, for the countries they are located in and for the global environment. The report argues that cities exist and grow because they are a source of economic prosperity and offer amenities that benefit their residents. It concludes that urbanisation is a process that needs to be shaped by policy makers to ensure that all benefit from it.

 

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  • Foreword

    Urbanisation is progressing as fast as never before in history. Understanding its causes and consequences is crucial for our ability to shape the process and ensure that it will benefit all citizens. The Metropolitan Century explains why people move into cities and shows that the ongoing urbanisation process promises to improve economic conditions and the well-being of the world’s population. Urbanisation is good for residents who move into cities because they benefit from higher wages and the proximity to amenities. It is good for countries because cities tend to be more productive and innovative than rural areas. Last but not least, it is good for the environment because the environmental impact of an urban population can be smaller than the environmental impact of the same population spread out over a large rural area.

  • Acronyms and abbreviations
  • Executive summary

    By the end of this "Metropolitan Century", most of the urbanisation on our planet is likely to be completed. The urban population will have increased from less than 1 billion in 1950 to roughly 6 billion by 2050. By 2100, it is likely to reach somewhere around 9 billion, corresponding to close to 85% of the projected total population.

  • Introduction: The century of urbanisation

    By the end of the 21st century, most of the urbanisation on our planet is likely to be completed. On current projections, the world population is set to expand roughly up to 2100. This growth will be driven largely by increases in urban population, from less than 1 billion to roughly 6 billion between 1950 and 2050. Over 100 years, the share of urban dwellers will have increased from 30% to 66% of the world population.

  • A short history of urbanisation

    This chapter provides a selective overview of important episodes in the history of urbanisation, starting with the emergence of the first cities around 8 000 years ago. It describes important social, economic and technological advances that have influenced the urbanisation process. First, the chapter discusses the factors that made it possible to build the first cities. Second, it explains why urbanisation increased strongly during the Industrial Revolution. Third, it examines the reasons for continuing urbanisation in the post-industrial age and outlines technological advances in transport and construction that have shaped cities through to the present day. Lastly, it provides an overview of the ongoing worldwide urbanisation process and shows why urbanisation will be virtually completed by the end of this century.

  • The secrets of successful cities

    This chapter analyses the characteristics of successful cities along three dimensions: population growth, economic performance and a functional organisation. First, it describes the role that location, agglomeration economies and the designation as a capital city play in determining population size. Second, it explores the impact of human capital on economic performance, investigates the relationship between city size and productivity, and shows the importance of good governance arrangements. This chapter also contains an overview of recent patterns of economic performance in cities across the OECD. Third, important factors determining the functional organisation of a city are discussed. Among the topics mentioned are appropriate governance structures, smart transport solutions and balanced land-use regulations that carefully consider the costs of restricting land use.

  • How cities affect citizens, countries and the environment

    This chapter examines the role of cities in the local, national and supra-national dimension. For each of these levels, the chapter asks the question of whether cities are "good". The first section considers whether cities are good for their residents, with an emphasis on the trade-off between the benefits and costs that arise from agglomeration for city residents. Taking the question to the national level, the second section investigates whether cities are good for their country. This section considers the concentration of countries’ activity in cities, the role of cities for innovation and the impact of cities beyond their borders. The final section asks whether cities are good for the planet, focusing on the environmental footprint of cities.

  • The cities of the 21st century

    This chapter examines the main challenges connected with 21st century urbanisation. It looks both at challenges that are similar across the globe, as well as those that are specific to a certain country or group of countries. It then turns to the more specific question of what are the important features of liveable and environmentally friendly cities, and the policies that are needed in this respect. The chapter finally speculates about the shifts in power that are likely to result from 21st century urbanisation, and discusses the best way for governments to deal with them.

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