Latin America is the most urbanized region of the world, said the UN Tuesday.
According to a presentation given by the United Nations Human Settlement Program (UN-Habitat) in Rio de Janeiro, the region of Latin America and the Caribbean is the most urbanized of the world.
The UN-Habitat presented its study, “The State of the Cities of Latin America and the Caribbean,” which showed that 80% of the region’s population is living in cities, a percentage which is estimated to grow to 89% by the year 2050. The urbanization process is even bigger in the Southern Cone of the region where an estimated 90% of the population will be living in cities by 2020.
The study could be, “a useful tool in the formulation of public policies to advance the course of cities in the 21st century towards a better quality of life,” said the executive director of UN-Habitat, Joan Clos.
According to the study, the number of cities in Latin America has multiplied by six in the last 50 years.
While before cities were growing because they were moving from the countryside to bigger cities, the migration pattern has since become more complex. More and more people have been moving from one city to another, and medium-sized cities have become more attractive as they offer better services.
According to the study, this type of migration permits for a “more balanced system” of urban growth, which “allows for the avoidance of problems from rapid growth as well as concentration on improving the space, infrastructure and existing services [of the cities].”
As large cities continue to grow, many end up absorbing the territories of other municipalities, generating urban areas of greater dimension. These cities have been the principal economic motors of Latin America.
On the other side of urban growth, one in every four people that live in cities, an alleged 124 million people, are living below the poverty line. Despite the reduction of poverty over the last years and the economic opportunities offered by the urbanization, Latin America still suffers from grave problems of inequality, employment deficit, and an alleged abundant amount of labor informality.