Sample Research Paper in Chicago Author-Date System Format: "The Benefits Of Urbanization"

Research PaperSociology

College papers involve researching on a topic before formulating a strong thesis statement about it. This sample college paper discusses the benefits of urbanization. The paper purports that urbanization offers numerous benefits for society and the environment but only if urbanization is managed well.

Experts expect that 66% to 70% of the world’s population will live in cities by 2050 (Taylor n.d.). Yearly, more and more rural residents migrate to urban cities in hopes of a better life. However, experts say that further increase in population in urban areas will translate to harmful effects on people and the environment. As the population increases, people in cities will experience housing problems, poverty, and unemployment (National Geographic Society). Meanwhile, all of these would lead to the exacerbation of current climate issues, primarily waste management, pollution, and deforestation. This phenomenon is not something that can be prevented unless more opportunities become available in rural areas. Urbanization is associated with numerous issues, including pollution and urban sprawl. However, research conducted for this custom college paper shows that despite these disadvantages, urbanization brings about more benefits for low-income countries that would allow them to solve existing and current issues, such as job generation and commercialization, improved transportation infrastructures, accelerated tourism industry, and technological innovations. However, urbanization must be harnessed properly to achieve these benefits.

What is Urbanization?

Although the term “urbanization” is widely used and debated (check out the 300 best debate topics for students ), there remains some confusion regarding its definition. More popular definitions of urbanization, such as from the Cambridge English Dictionary , explain it as the process of people moving from rural areas to cities, which results in urban population growth (Cambridge English Dictionary n.d.). Researchers, on the other hand, define urbanization as the process of turning a rural area into an urban one through population migration, land use, economic activity, and culture (McGranahan and Satterthwaite 2014, 6). Thus, while McGranahan and Satterthwaite (2014, 6) argue that the definition of urbanization is diverse due to developments and differences in culture, it can be concluded that the term urbanization refers to the process of transformation of a rural area into a city through changes in land use, population size, culture, and finally, increased economic activity.

Urbanization, associated with an increase in population size and the industrialization of economies, is thus often cited as one of the main causes of climate issues, such as increased waste, pollution, and deforestation. Likewise, plenty of cause and effect papers have asserted that urbanization is the primary cause of various social issues like poverty, housing problems, and unemployment to name a few, especially in developing countries (Turok and McGranahan 2013). Because of these, urbanization has had a negative reputation. However, urbanization could contribute positively to growth, poverty reduction, and even environmental stability when managed properly. 

The Benefits of Urbanization

Discussions pertaining to urbanization usually delve into its negative effects. However, when harnessed properly, urbanization could have a positive impact on a country and its people. Urbanization facilitates technological and economic development, which are vital in reducing poverty and inequality (United Nations 2020, para. 2). It is important to note, then, that the phenomenon of urbanization is more commonly observed nowadays in developing countries. Developing countries are typically characterized by large rural areas and unoccupied land with a handful of cities usually situated in the capital. This also means that developments are concentrated in these cities, while rural areas suffer from low incomes as a result of limited opportunities for both gainful employment, limited access to basic services, and lack of better equipment to support or improve their trades (Lee and Kind 202, para. 7). As a result, rural residents typically live in poverty with little opportunity to improve their situation. However, urbanization can help with poverty reduction in rural areas, in particular by bringing development to these areas.

Urbanization can help facilitate rural poverty reduction through technological and economic development (Turok and McGranahan 2013). As unoccupied lands are developed, private corporations are encouraged to invest in these localities and, therefore hire workers from these areas. As establishments rise, more income opportunities also rise for rural residents, including both employment opportunities and business opportunities. It is important to note that although urbanization may start with just one industry, it also tends to attract other industries into the area so that there is a wider variety of employment opportunities (Turok and McGranahan 2013). With urbanization, rural residents are given an opportunity to improve their lives. When more people have disposable income, they are able to contribute to and stimulate the economy, so businesses in their area will flourish even more. Cities with a flourishing economy attract more businesses so they and their people will continue to thrive. Since urbanization generates more jobs, more rural residents are able to earn and survive in shifting economies.

Attracting more businesses is crucial in the growth of developing countries since the business sector expands to other industries as well including the government (Wan 2013, para. 6). Governments generate income from the business sector in the form of taxes, which they can use to fund projects that address the needs or demands of the city or country. One example is that urbanization not only helps provide funds but also encourages the building of transportation infrastructures within a locality as well as outside it, connecting it with other cities in the country. 

One of the primary benefits of urbanization is better public services to address the demands of its growing population. Urbanization inspires governments to build better roads and establish transportation services like trains. With good governance, urbanization also makes it possible for governments to offer better services, such as schools and hospitals. In addition to availability, public services become more physically accessible to the general population in urban areas due to the higher density of population in a smaller distance (Turok and McGranahan 2013). When such services become available, the quality of life of people inevitably improves as well.

These developments inevitably also come with technological innovations. Being around other people with expertise allows for meaningful exchange of ideas, which leads to valuable products and developments, which further stimulates development in the area (Turok and McGranahan 2013). These developments mean substantial social change, which creates a positive cycle attracting further businesses, such as multinational companies (United Nations Centre for Human Settlements n.d.). Whether it is from non-governmental organizations or multinational corporations, these investments equip the country to further improve its status. 

Moreover, urbanization could also benefit the environment in multiple ways. Wan asserts that urbanization could reduce the ecological footprint of humans by concentrating the population in a small area. High urban density could mean lower energy use for both households and the service sector. The technical innovations that urbanization makes possible could focus on green technologies and ways to make processes more energy efficient or environment-friendly (Wan 2013, para. 4-5). However, Wan cautions that this is only possible if urbanization is managed well with such goals in mind. Otherwise, the climate and social issues conventionally ascribed to urbanization will, indeed, become the reality.

Conclusion: Harnessing Urbanization For Progress

In the past years, urbanization has been seen in a negative light, similar to how the effects of globalization are seen. Numerous social and climate change issues have been attributed to urbanization. However, urbanization facilitates progress and development that helps improve the standard of living which is not possible in purely rural settings. For many low-income, developing countries, urbanization is a necessary transformation to achieve progress. This does not mean, however, that urbanization only brings about benefits. When not harnessed properly, urbanization could bring about numerous issues like deforestation, poor waste management, pollution, poor infrastructure, housing issues, poverty, unemployment, and deeper inequalities. Governments must prioritize urbanization that is environment-friendly, such as by using energy-efficient modes of transportation, efficient allocation of resources, strict regulations for waste management, and so on. Likewise, the government should be prepared for the dense population in urban areas and build infrastructures and public services that can support the density of their population. Finally, there should be transparency and accountability to promote good governance, which will ultimately determine whether urbanization will have a positive or negative impact on a country or city. As already mentioned, urbanization offers numerous positive benefits that could push a city or country forward, but it must be managed properly for this to become a reality.


Cambridge English Dictionary. N.d. “Urbanization.”

National Geographic Society. “Urbanization.” National Geographic, October 2019,

McGranahan, Gordon, and Satterthwaite, David. June 2014. Urbanization Concepts and Trends. International Institute for Environment and Development. Accessed on August 10, 2022. 

Taylor, Dylan. “The Benefits and Challenges Of Urbanization.” Urban Gateway, n.d.

Turok, Ivan, and McGranahan, Gordon. June 28, 2013. “Urbanization and Economic Growth: The Arguments and Evidence for Africa and Asia.” Environment and Urbanization 25, no. 2: 465-482.

United Nations. (2020, February 21). “Urbanization: Expanding Opportunities, but Deeper Divides.” 

United Nations Centre for Human Settlements. Population, Urbanization and Quality Of Life. 1994.,of%20living%20of%20the%20population 

“Urbanization: Expanding Opportunities, But Deeper Divides.” United Nations. Accessed August 10, 2022. 

Wan, Guanghua. “Why Urbanization May Benefit The Environment.” Asian Development Bank. January 23, 2013,

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