Urbanization Alarming

Urbanization Alarming Urbanization Alarming

The rate of urbanization in Iran has surpassed 70% since 2014 when it was around 69%, the Ministry of Roads and Urban Development reported. That is while the global average is around 60%.

Data from the World Bank also shows that the average growth rate of urbanization in Iran over the past 50 years has been double the global pace.

Many developed nations have focused their decentralization policies on rural areas and prioritized the agricultural sector, and have been successful in reducing the rate and pace of urbanization, the news website says.

In Iran, however, uneven and inequitable allocation of resources, particularly to large urban areas plus social and economic imbalances, have pushed more people to migrate to megacities, resulting in higher population density and centralization of services.

The World Bank reports that in 1882, 1961, and 2012 the rate of urbanization in Iran was 25.7%, 34.04%, and 72% respectively. The rate currently is over 73%.

The highest rate (over 90%) of urbanization is attributed to Qom, Tehran and Alborz provinces. The capital Tehran has the largest population growth rate, with a 1.7 million increase between 2006 and 2011.

In 2012, the rate of urbanization in Turkey, Malaysia, and Russia was 71.5%, 72.8%, and 73.8%. Studies show that 82% people in Saudi Arabia and the United States reside in urban areas.

According to the Statistical Center of Iran, while the population growth rate is less than 2%, the growth rate of urban population on average is over 13%. The figures indicate that urban population is booming by the day due to a variety of reasons namely migration, while the rural population is shrinking with hundreds of villages almost totally abandoned in the past few decades.

Despite repeated promises by successive governments to decentralize the metropolises and provide decent facilities to every urban and rural area, no concrete action has been taken so far.

Centralization policies and the command economy over the past few years have forced people to move to the more privileged areas in search of employment and better living conditions.  Concentration of economic activities and services in the capital that is home to 8.5 million, (greater Tehran has over 14 million) are reasons for this large-scale population shift putting a huge burden on facilities and resources.

 Unemployment Rates

Latest reports on unemployment by the SCI show that government policies have been mostly focused on megacities, Tehran in particular, resulting in a decline in the unemployment rate from 11% in 2013 to 7.4% in Tehran Province, while it has skyrocketed in almost all other provinces.

In other words, state policies have been effective in Tehran where the jobless rate has declined to the third lowest in the country after Hamedan (6.9%) and Kerman (5.9%) provinces. That goes against the grain of decentralization, economic experts and analysts believe.

Existing facilities in a large number of cities have failed to meet the essential needs of the people as they have been overwhelmed due to rising demand, are not properly equipped and have underdeveloped infrastructure.

A major consequence of urbanization is the waning of rural lifestyles as well as traditional jobs and agriculture. A large segment of those who migrate to cities leave their professions for pretty much anything that pays, which by extension exacerbates the urbanization phenomenon now approaching alarming levels.

As more and more metropolises expand they also challenge the environment, threatening regional habitats.

There is still no answer as to why economic growth policies ricochet back to Tehran, while its demographic situation continues to worsen at terrible speed, and the large body of experts continues to emphasize decentralization of resource allocation and infrastructural facilities in the capital.

Needless to say that the trend should be reined in sooner rather than later before it crosses the point of no return.