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Evaluation of the View That Migration to Megacities Is the Best Solution to Rural Poverty in the Developing World

Updated on July 2, 2016

The term megacity is generally taken to mean a city with a population of more than 10 million people. Migration to megacities has many potential benefits for people leaving impoverished rural areas; urbanisation has helped India to move away from its caste system, which has, and still does, prevent millions of people from accessing basic amenities.

Dharavi, India.
Dharavi, India. | Source

However, the people most likely to emigrate from poorer rural areas are those with the greatest chance of becoming employed, i.e. working age, which skills. This will lead to a "brain drain" in rural areas, thereby increasing poverty there, as a reverse multiplier effect takes place.

Migration to the growing megacity of Lagos, in Nigeria, is helping to reduce overall poverty to some extent, but, again, the "brain drain" is causing a diminished flow of resources between "core" and "periphery" regions, as there are fewer and fewer opportunities in rural areas.

Whilst remittance payments from urban earners to rural family members could help to improve living standards in rural areas, this strategy is unsustainable, and has not helped countries such as Moldova, which receives around a third of its gross domestic product (GDP) from remittance payments from emigrants.

Dharavi, India

Furthermore, upon migrating to megacities, a person is not guaranteed to become employed in a desirable job; many non-skilled workers overestimate the opportunities, which leads to the growth of slums on the outskirts of megacities, such as Rocinha (Rio de Janeirol, Brazil) and Dharavi (Mumbai, India).

Clearly, the view that migration to megacities could lead to development in rural areas is flawed. Eventually, a megacity may become so economically powerful that it is able to drive tangible development in surrounding rural areas, via trickle-down wealth, but this is likely to involve the city engulfing the rural communities, thereby eradicating rural poverty, but only by transforming the rural areas into urban environments.

Is migration to megacities the best solution to rural poverty in the developing world?

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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 20 months ago from Oklahoma

      Interesting perspective.