What Are the Negative and Positive Effects of Urbanization?

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Some benefits of urbanization are economies of scale, better transportation, better opportunities for housing and education, better medical care, increased job opportunities and greater access to goods. However, urbanization also has some negative effects, such as traffic, violence, increased pollution, diseases and physical inactivity.

Urbanization is a process in which people begin moving to cities in large numbers. Social scientists, doctors and other experts have debated for years whether the vast urbanization trend that is still continuing today is a net positive or a net negative.

The pro-urbanization side points to the benefits that a concentration of human capital can bring, as different people live together, share ideas and come up with innovative solutions for problems that they may not have discovered if they lived in rural isolation. They also point out the environmental benefits of urbanization, saying it takes less energy to run the smaller homes in cities, thus saving resources and decreasing carbon emissions.

However, detractors point out that urban environments require more shipping; since city dwellers do not tend to farm, their food must come from far away. This, along with traffic, tends to increase pollution. In addition, the World Health Organization shows that those who live in cities have an increased risk of diseases like cancer and asthma. Cities also have more person-to-person contact, which can lead to more deadly or disabling outbreaks of contagious diseases.