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For
developed countries like Britain, rapid growth of the urban populations is an
example of Industrial Revolution in which economic growth happened parallel
with industrialization. On the other hand, less developed countries have
experienced sudden expansion in urban population, but without demonstrating
significant economic progress.* In answer to this disproportionate relationship, Mike Davis outlines Global
neoliberalism which prompted the development of urban areas through foreign
investment and capitalistic industries relying on cities to function as a node
in a worldwide capitalist network. Western institutions neglected the rural regions
and agricultural industries and local governments ended up spending more
repaying their debts to these financial institutions than they were on public
services like health and education. As a result, previously subsistence
agricultural land and state owned enterprises became privatized. Small-scale
producers lacked land, water, or capital and general welfare. Subsequently, one
could say that these circumstances acted as push factors and with combination
of pull factors people moved to cities with a prospect of finding a job and
better medical and education services. *

Looking
at the consequences and the impacts of urban growth, whether ill or good, it is
noticeable that slums can be seen as a result of the economic forces that
pulled people towards cities. Whether slums are a “pathology” and a product of
an imbalanced international economic system that elevates profit for a few over
the welfare of the poor in the developing world or an adapting solution of
entrepreneurial energy and capacity for self-governance exhibited by the
residents of informal settlements, is a debate beyond the scope of this essay.
However, overcrowding and poverty can both be found in 19th century in Britain
and in rapidly growing cities in the developing world today.

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During the first decades of industrial revolution, the quality of life decreased for many
workers. As economic opportunities were forcing people to move to
cities there was an emerging need to fulfil
the housing needs in the industrializing cities of 18th and 19th
century in Britain. Those viewing cities during this period are astounded or
more often horrified by the city’s industrial face, the hundreds of cotton
factories and warehouses, the narrow alleyways, courts and over-crowded houses.
Frederich Engels description of Manchester concluded that “the 350,000 working
people of Manchester and its environs live, almost all of them, in wretched,
damp, filthy cottages, that the streets which surround them are usually in the
most miserable and filthy condition, laid out without the slightest reference
to ventilation, with reference solely to the profit secured by the contractor”*.
Edwin Chadwick’s Report on the Sanitary Condition of the Labouring Population
of Great Britain, published in 1842 pointed out that “the annual loss of life
from filth and bad ventilation were greater than the loss from death or wounds
in any wars in which the country had been engaged in modern times”.* The
reaction to Chadwick’s report ranged from anger by the government to
wholehearted acceptance, passing through disbelief and derision on the way.
This situation resembles the slum conditions in less developed countries today­,
where the local governments lack of the financial and expert ability to address
urban problems. Similarly, the nongovernment organizations, working at the
local scale of poor neighbourhoods in cities, are dealing with same constrains.
Consequently, local needs of poor urban areas and slum settlements are not
represented and have no legal on city or national governments.

The
industrial revolution should be seen as a process that shaped the face of new
industrial and economically successful societies by modifying their social and
economic structures and destabilizing all established hierarchies. It
eventually influenced every aspect of people’s daily life. Thanks to the
introduction of new high-impact inventions into the world of production, which
emerged in a changing intellectual environment, the human power of production
was released in a spectacular way. Improvements to
the lives of the working class followed one being the new the New
Town Movement deriving from the Garden City Movement, founded by Ebenezer
Howard in the late 1800s, as an alternative to the overcrowded, polluted,
chaotic and miserable industrial cities that had appeared in Britain. *

By
putting the relationship of urbanization and development in historical
perspective, it is noticeable that urbanization without growth is documented in
the late 20th century. From 1500 to 1950, urbanization rates increased
dramatically in the richest countries in the world, and the growth of the
largest cities in the world was concentrated in those rich nations. But at that
point the relationship changed. Industrialization in developing countries did
not grow in proportion to urbanization leading to a phenomenon known us
urbanization without growth. Urban centres in the developing world are unable
to sustain an ever increasing amount of people and consequently, the lack of employment and access to
basic services and housing creates an informal environment defined by
improvised slums and increasing levels of poverty.

In
the context of urbanization, the rapid growth of the urban populations during
Industrial revolution in Britain and in Less developed countries in the past 60
years are both of similar phenomena and showcase certain parallels and
differences. The mechanism of growth seems similar with populations shifting
from living in rural areas to living in the cities in search of jobs and better
life qualities. Arrival to the city is followed by formation of slums, heavily
populated areas having a sub-standard housing with very poor living conditions.
But here the similarities stop. The social and economic mechanisms existing
today in underdeveloped economies are not expanding employment from economic
growth and industrialization and the authorities are faced with rapid urban development
while they lack the capacity to cope with the diverse demands for
infrastructural provision to meet economic and social needs. In what extent and
under which conditions are urbanization and economic growth related? Do
urbanization and development work together to generate higher living standards
in the “Third World” as they did in Britain? Those are the questions that go beyond the scope of
this essay but their answers will
determine the future of the lives and well-being of billions of people around
the world.