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    A critical assessment of urban-rural projections with special reference to United Nations methods.

    Speare Jr, A

    In: United Nations. Department of International Economic and Social Affairs. Population projections: methodology of the United Nations. New York, N.Y., United Nations, 1984. 75-80. (Population Studies, No. 83; ST/ESA/SER.A/83)

    The changing character of urban growth in the latter part of this century will require a modification of the procedures used for uban projections. Definitions of urban areas need to be revised to move away from the concept of densely settled localities and to take into account forms of settlement in which "urban" populations are dispersed over wide areas. Since these newer, more dispersed, urban settlements present Governments with different problems from those presented by large densely-settled cities, and small towns present another set of problems, it would make sense to identify and make projections for 3 classes of urban settlement: central cities, peripheral urban areas and small towns. It is also argued that urbanization in the future may not proceed at the same rate as observed in the past and that some countries may remain primarily rural while other highly urbanized countries may experience declines in their levels of urbanization. While these results will be affected by the choice of urban definition, under any definition allowance ought to be made for a range of future patterns of urbanization. Computational methods have become relatively inexpensive and many countries are now providing much better base data for projections than was available a decade ago. These methods and data should be used to prepare alternative sets of urban-rural projections which take full account of the range of patterns of urbanization which may occur in the future. Finally, many nations have population redistribution policies which include measures to encourage or discourage the growth of particular cities or classes or urban settlement. While experience has shown that the specific numerical goals specified in such policies are rarely achieved and that growth often continues in areas where policies exist to discourage it, these policies often have some impact and should not be neglected. For countries which have fairly explicit redistribution policies, it would make sense to prepare 1 set of projections based on these policies. This set of projections would provide an illustration of how urbanization would depart from that expected from past trends if the policy objectives were realized and would aid in the discussion of these policy objectives.
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