China's Urbanization Plan Could Heighten Social Unrest

As the suburbs grew, more and more of the middle classes abandoned the cities. The suburbs were attractive for many reasons: They were cleaner, newer, had better-funded schools, were socially homogeneous, and provided a sense of security. They provided what city dwellers had long been seeking—bigger yards and more privacy. The perceived problems of the city—crowding, high taxes, crime, and poverty—could be left behind. And because the suburbs were politically independent of the core city, the layers of bureaucracy and corruption could be replaced by smaller, friendlier, and presumably more honest government.

An examination of China’s New Urbanization Strategy

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With these new suburbs springing up on the fringes of major urban centers, older suburbs face many of the hardships of cities. As the young and the more affluent seek the newest housing developments, tax bases in the cities and in older suburbs erode. The housing stock deteriorates because of age and perhaps neglect, and housing prices stagnate or fall, causing tax revenues to decline. The elderly—many on limited incomes and in poor health—are more likely to stay in the older suburbs, a trend that not only diminishes tax revenues but increases demand for social services. Schools, no longer supported by the same strong property tax base, suffer in quality, causing even more people to move out. Poorer people then move into the cheaper housing of the older suburbs. As poverty increases in the older areas, so does crime. Older suburbs are often in more desperate financial straits than the central city, because their economic base is less diverse.

Demographics of South Korea - Wikipedia

In the 20 largest cities and urbanized areas of the United States, 41 percent of the local population, on average, lives in the city, and 59 percent lives in the surrounding suburbs, towns, and associated rural areas. Hoping for more privacy, more space, and better housing, people continued to look to the fringes of urban areas. In the 1990s it became apparent that older suburbs were losing population to newer suburbs and to the so-called exurbs, rural areas bordering cities.

Artur Juszczyk Social problems in mega-cities are the result of overpopulation Mexico City Every village, town and city has its own …
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Upward mobility, home ownership, educational opportunities, and cheap goods softened many of the disadvantages of 19th-century urban life. Beautification programs, electrification, and construction of libraries, parks, playgrounds, and swimming pools, gradually improved the quality of urban life in the 20th century, although poor areas received fewer benefits. Poverty, particularly among new arrivals, and low wages remained problems in the cities throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. American reform movements, such as the settlement house movement, have typically been more interested in treating the effects of poverty—housing, health, and corruption—than the causes of poverty—unemployment, underemployment, poor skills, and low wages. Labor unions helped raise wages and benefits for many workers, particularly the most skilled, from 1900 to 1950, but since then replacement of skilled factory work by service employment has reduced both wage levels and the influence of labor unions. The U.S. Department of Labor reports that the average annual wages of American working men fell from $31,317 in 1979 to $33,244 in 1999 (adjusted for inflation). Wages fell further for those without high school diplomas.

Resilient cities | The Guardian

Traffic congestion is an increasing problem in cities and suburbs, and Americans spend more and more of their time commuting to work, school, shopping, and social events, as well as dealing with traffic jams and accidents. By the late 1990s rush-hour traffic patterns no longer flowed simply into the city in the morning and out of the city in the evening. Traffic became heavy in all directions, both to and from cities as well as between suburban locations. Suburban business locations required huge parking lots because employees had to drive; there were few buses, trains, or trolleys to carry scattered workers to their jobs. The hope of reduced congestion in the suburbs had not been realized; long commutes and traffic jams could be found everywhere.