Causes & Consequences of Urbanization

Urbanisation refers to the societal shift from an agricultural, rural lifestyle to the city. The process is usually ongoing, with tides of rapid exodus from country to city. The cause of urbanisation can be an increase in population, innovation in technology or environmental changes. Urbanisation is not without its problems. Consequences of urbanisation include water runoff and contamination problems, poverty, increase in violent crime, shifts in gender roles and loss of wildlife habitats.


Innovations in agricultural technology and unfavourable weather conditions can both cause an exodus from rural to urban settings. New technologies can reduce the need for human labour in the field, freeing individuals to move to the city for education or in search of different work opportunities. Drought, pestilence and corruption of the soil may render farming practices impossible for some, thereby forcing farmers and their families to move the city in search of new economic opportunities.

Loss of Woodland Areas

Woodland areas must be cleared to make room for urban populations. New buildings and paved roadways replace the forest. The result is a loss of habitat areas for woodland creatures, such as deer, bears, wolves and birds. Humans may have negative run-ins with hungry wildlife that lead to injury. In addition, 40 per cent of rainfall is evaporated from forest treetops. When a forest is cleared, nearly all rainfall falls to the ground and cannot be absorbed. Where the ground is covered with pavement, areas with high levels of rainfall can be prone to flooding. Drinking water may also be prone to contamination due to rainwater runoff.


Rapid urbanisation can result in a sudden rise in poverty. Impoverished individuals moving from rural areas to the city may experience homelessness, hunger and lack of health care. An increase in violent crimes, such as robbery, slayings or domestic abuse, may result from these conditions or lack of a familial support system.

Change in Gender Roles

Urbanisation can lead to a shift in gender roles, with female-led households. The ramifications may be many if women heads-of-households face discrimination and lack of access to jobs, financial credit, health care and education. Children may suffer in a single parent home where the parent cannot find work because of her gender.

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About the Author

Kristin Jennifer began writing professionally in 2010, with her work appearing on eHow. She has five years of experience working as an immigration specialist in Houston and New York City. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science and a minor in economics from Barnard College.