Return to previous page

The gap between the rich and the poor, the urban and the rural, has led to a massive immigration from rural areas to cities. It is not uncommon for men to leave their households to find work in the cities, while their wives tend crops and take care of the children. This puts the extreme amount of pressure on families who are divided by economic forces. Rural-urban interactions, is increasingly recognized as central in processes of social, economic and cultural change in both cities and countryside. Despite this renewed interest, however, empirical studies of the scale and nature of the interactions between rural and urban areas still have a relatively limited impact on development policy and practice. Spatial policies such as regional development planning have traditionally been the tools used by policy makers in their attempt to encourage a “better balance” between cities and countryside and to reduce migration pressures on large urban centers. Sectoral strategies give a high priority to agriculture and rural development, on the assumption that this will help address rural poverty and that the benefits will be concentrated in the regions or rural areas to which these programs are directed. In many instances, however, this has not been the case, and the main beneficiaries often have been large farmers and wealthy or well-connected businesses. Meanwhile, the goods and services required by the new economic activities stimulated by these policies often draw from businesses located outside the regional boundaries, and rising incomes are often spent or invested elsewhere.

The structural transformation of an economy during the process of development is a well-established fact. In this process a rural population mainly employed in agriculture turns into an urban one shifting towards industry and eventually services. Such a process has some clear association with the rural-urban distribution of income within countries as well as with their rate of growth. This paper is concerned with both of these macro aspects of the urbanization. It also aims to describe the nature of the urbanization process by testing for convergence as well as for persistence in growth rates of cities. This provides a complementary view of the urban transformation of a country to that of the macro-analysis.

Development and the Rural-Urban Divide summarizes and appraises theories of rural-urban relations and economic development and explores, mainly on the basis of country case studies, the conceptual and theoretical problems to which they give rise. There is a linkage between the rural and urban development. These linkages matter because rural and urban livelihoods are interconnected economically, financially, and socially.