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Urbanisation in Asia: An Overview Graeme Hugo University of Adelaide Australia Paper prepared for Conference on African Migration in Comparative Perspective, Johannesburg, South Africa, 4-7 June, 2003. INTRODUCTION Of the many profound changes which have swept Asia during the last half-century none have been so profound and far reaching as the doubling of the proportion of population living in urban areas. In 1950, 231 million Asians lived in urban areas and by 2000 they had increased five t
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    Urbanisation in Asia: An Overview Graeme Hugo University of AdelaideAustraliaPaper prepared for Conference on African Migration in Comparative Perspective, Johannesburg, South Africa, 4-7June, 2003.  1 INTRODUCTION Of the many profound changes which have swept Asia during the last half-century nonehave been so profound and far reaching as the doubling of the proportion of population living inurban areas. In 1950, 231 million Asians lived in urban areas and by 2000 they had increasedfive times to 1.22 billion while their proportions of the total population increased from 17.1 to34.9 percent (United Nations 2001a). Moreover, in the next two decades Asia will pass thethreshold of having more than half their population living in urban areas (United Nations 2002).While there are huge variations between countries in the level of urbanisation and later of urbangrowth this is indicative of substantial economic, social and demographic change in the region.The paper firstly outlines the major patterns and trends in urbanisation and urban growth in theregion. It then examines, in so far as is possible with the information available, the role of  population movement in Asian urbanisation. It then discusses a number of key issues relating tomigration and urbanisation in the region and finally a number of policy issues relating tourbanisation in Asia are examined.In considering urban population issues in Asia it is important to be aware of a number of difficulties associated with the conceptualisation, definition and delineation of urban areas in theregion. One of the most salient features of urban areas in the region are the complex and stronglinkages they have with rural areas and the high degree of population mobility which occur alongthose linkages. This movement has blurred the distinctions between urban and rural areas withmany people working in urban areas while keeping their family in and spending long periodsthemselves in rural areas (Hugo, 1982a). Moreover the definition and delineation of urban boundaries in the region not only varies greatly between Asian countries but in many is based onadministrative criteria which are not effective in distinguishing urban from rural populations(Champion and Hugo (eds.) 2003, forthcoming; Jones 2003, forthcoming). URBANISATION TRENDS The United Nations biennial estimates of urban, rural and city populations are used hereto outline the major recent and likely forthcoming trends in Asian urbanisation and urban growth(United Nations 2001a, 2002). It is important at the outset to stress what the changes have meantin terms of numbers of people since this is most indicative of the shifts in demand and need for goods and services. Figure 1 indicates the massive absolute growth which has occurred in the  2Asian urban sector between 1950 and 2000 (from 250 million to almost 1.5 billion people), whilethe rural population has increased from 1.2 to 2.3 billion.Figure 1: Asia: Urban and Rural Population Area, 1950-2030Source: Zlotnik 2003On the other hand, the Asian rural population is expected to decline over the next three decadeswhile the urban population will almost double. However, these figures mask enormousvariations between individual countries and regions within Asia. Table 1 shows that South-Central Asia is the least urbanised part of the region with less than a third (29.8 percent) of its population living in urban areas while Eastern Asia is the most urbanised (41.6 percent). By2030 two in three residents in East Asia will live in urban areas while the urban proportion will be 44 percent in South Central Asia and 56.5 percent in Southeastern Asia. The variation is evengreater between individual countries and Appendix One presents United Nations estimates and projections of the number and percent of the total population of each country in urban areas.This indicates that the level of urbanisation varies from the city-states of China-Hong Kong andSingapore to the almost totally rural countries of East Timor (7.5 percent living in urban areas)and Bhutan (7.1 percent). It is especially important to consider trends in the largest nations. Of  RuralUrban  3the 10 nations with more than 100 million residents in 2000, six were in Asia. Table 2 showstrends in growth of the urban populations in those nations. Table 1: Asia: Urban Population, Number and Percentage Estimates, 1950 to 2000and Projections, 2030 Source: United Nations 2002 1950 2000 2030 No. (’000) % No. (’000) % No. (’000) %Eastern Asia 121,250 18.0 616,845 41.6 1,064,756 62.7South Central Asia 82,882 16.6 440,879 29.8 968,944 44.0Southeastern Asia 26,305 14.8 196,029 37.5 407,174 56.5Asia 230,437 17.1 1,253,753 34.9 2,440,874 52.5 Table 2: Asia’s Largest Countries: Urban Population, Number and PercentageEstimates, 1950 and 2000 and Projections, 2030 Source: United Nations 2002 1950 2000 2030 No.(’000)%% Growth1950-2000 No.(’000)%% Growth1950-2030 No.(’000)%China 69,528 12.5 556.3 456,340 35.8 93.6 883,421 59.5India 61,695 17.3 352.3 279,045 27.7 106.3 575,684 40.9Indonesia 9,863 12.4 781.5 86,943 41.0 107.1 180,019 63.7Pakistan 6,949 17.5 572.9 46,757 33.1 184.9 133,226 48.9Bangladesh 1,774 4.2 1,836.5 34,354 25.0 186.9 98,554 44.3Japan 42,065 50.3 137.9 100,089 78.8 2.7 102,819 84.8 Clearly there has been massive urban growth over the 1950-2000 period and this will at leastdouble again except in Japan and China. Only Japan had more than a half of its population inurban areas in 2000 but by 2030 this will also be the case in China and Indonesia. It is alsoimportant to consider the tempo of change in urbanisation and urban growth. Table 3summarises the main trends and shows that over the 1950-2000 period Asia’s urban populationgrew by 3.46 percent per annum.
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