This is the view of Kingsley Davis, a pioneer of historical urban demography and world urbanization, in his 1965 Scientific America piece "The Urbanization of the Human Population." He explains that "urbanization" is a term that describes not merely the growth, in population, of cities--but a relative change between the urban and rural (read: farming) population. Thus, just because a city's population is growing does not mean that more people are migrating from the country into cities (urbanization).
Davis goes over the history of urbanization in Northwest Europe (urbanization began to support trade and economic production) and the "S-curve" theory of urbanization (urbanization starts off slow and then increases rapidly as economic incentives from prospering city industries continue to increase, and then tapers off as overcowding and the availability of automobiles and other conveniences encourages people to move into suburban areas).
Davis also addresses the misplaced anxiety of leaders in underdeveloped nations that a severe rural-urban migration is underway. While it is true that developing countries are becoming urbanized at a slightly faster rate than those of the 19th century (about 5%), the overall growth of their cities can't be predominantly explained by urbanization.
|Greenberg, Seattle Post Intelligence, 1994|
His final warning, or thesis statement, is stern: "It seems plain that the only way to stop urban crowding and to solve most of the urban problems besetting both the developed and underdeveloped nations is to reduce the overall rate of population growth...Urban planners continue to treat population growth as something to be planned for, not something to be itself planned."