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Lecture 5

GGRA03H3 - Lecture 5.docx

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Andre Sorensen

GGRA03U3 – Week 5 What are Megacities? - Current UN Definition: o Population>10m (million) - In the past various definitions, including 4m (Dogan and Kasarda 1988), 8m (Richardson 1993, Gilbert 1996), 10m (Ward 1990, UNDESA 2008) - There is no reason to think that there is a qualitative difference between cities of 8 or 10m. - There clearly is a difference between cities of 1m and 8-10m. - What urban issues are likely to be impacted by very large size? o Congestion  As cities get larger, growth happens in the edges. o Travel issues o Pollution o Poverty and Social Inequalities  Exists in larger cities, or simply more? o Larger housing problems for the poor o Water Why are Megacities important? - Megacities now contain about 9% of world urban population - Rapid growth of number of megacities, 2 in 1950, by 1975 Mexico City was third, by 2007, there was 19 including 15 in developing countries - In 2025, it is projected that there will be 28, with 22 in developing countries - This is clearly an increasingly important share of total urban population - Understanding the problems and solutions characteristic of megacities is essential. Big Questions - In what ways are megacities a new form of urban development? - Is this a qualitative change, or merely a quantitative change? - What are the distinctive characteristics of megacity urbanization compared to smaller settlements? - What are the advantages and disadvantages of megacities? - What major policy challenges can be expected? - What responses are we already seeing? Key Concept 1 - Megacities represent a new urban scale. o Megacities are city-regions with more than 10m population o Most megacities are in developing countries o The number of megacities is growing rapidly o Population and urban projections for the next 40 years are known with relative certainty o Megacities are a qualitatively different urban form, not just bigger – for 5 main reasons:  Pollution  Congestion  Economy  Land values and housing  Governance Scale - Scale is a major geographical concept - A city of 100,000 will function utterly differently than a city of 5 million, even with similar GDP/capita, population density, housing types, and jobs - Methodological scale refers to the scale at which phenomena are studied (boundaries, political units) - Geographical scale refers to scales that may be inherent in the object of study – the body, neighbourhood, city, region, nation, globe – these produce relationships and power dynamics - Geographic scale differentiates between spatial phenomena, and spatial processes. Special Issues of Very Large-Scale Cities - There has been a very long history of thinking about city size - Plato and many others identified 50k as an ideal size - At that size, it is possible to know everyone, participatory democratic governance is possible - In 20 century many predicted that over a certain size a range of Diseconomies of Scale would become dominant, and would increase costs, and reduce efficiency, therefore leading to slower growth. - Economy of Scale: o The more products are made, the cheaper they are.  Hand-made vs. Factory made - Diseconomy of Scale: o The larger the product, the more costly  Large name brands - What is a diseconomy of scale, and what are some examples? o Housing o Travel o Pollution  Pollution increases as cities grow. Special Issues of Very Large Cities – 2 - Expected diseconomies of scale are congestion, pollution, long travel times, high land costs - All of these can be expected to continue to increase with population growth. - Such factors will increase the costs of business, and of living in large cities, but can be reduced by increased infrastructure investment, roads, subways, etc. - Counterbalancing these increased costs are economies of scale, where there are economic advantages to larger city size - Examples? Special Issues of Very Large Cities – 3 - Expected economies of scale: o Larger markets & larger labour pools - Higher land costs result in more efficient use of land, some goods are available that are not available in smaller cities - Subways, opera houses, specialist services, stock markets, etc. - If a large city continues to grow, we might conclude that economies of scale are larger than diseconomies of scale - BUT, it is important to realize that diseconomies of scale mostly cost individuals, while economies of scale mostly benefit firms. Costs to people Benefits to Firms - That sounds pretty unfair, why would that make sense? - Why would extra costs affect people more than firms? - They all affect livability – pollution, high housing costs, higher housing costs, long travel times all are major costs to individuals - For many firms, the benefits of large labour pools, larger nearby market, and access to specialist services and suppliers very often outweigh higher land and travel costs Key Concept 2 - Megacities demonstrate a number of special characteristics o There have been debates about ‘optimal city size’ for centuries. We cannot determine a ‘best size’ for cities. o Idea of diseconomies of scale is that for some issues very large size will mean higher costs: c
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