Rural-Urban drift

Perhaps, 90% of the world lived in rural areas before the industrial revolution. However, the world is becoming more urbanized. This is changing lives in fundamental ways. People’s earning method is different in urban areas than that in rural areas. People in rural areas generally own some land and agriculture is the mainstay of rural areas whereas industry and services are the mainstays of urban areas.

Countries experience economic development with a rising proportion of the population in rural areas. Rural areas are poopers. A rising population of the labour force is in the industry and service sectors and a declining proportion is in agriculture.

The income per person tends to be higher in urban areas than in rural areas. This is one of the magnets that is pulling people in cities from farms in search of work and higher incomes. Population density is low in rural areas whereas urban areas can be packed with thousands of people per square kilometer.

The quality of public services tends to differ. It’s harder to provide electricity, and piped water sewerage systems in rural areas where populations are disbursed. This is one of the reasons why income levels tend to be higher in urban areas. Fertility rates are higher in rural areas. Children are often seen as good economic workers for the farm, whereas in an urban area, children are expensive. Globally, the richer parts of the world tend to be more urban. The poorer parts of the world tend to be more rural.

However, urbanization is proceeding rapidly across the globe. In Africa, some urban areas grow at 5% per year. The world’s rural population has probably peaked at this point. The urban population is soaring.

In today’s rural areas, farmers are working in very small plots as the population moves to urban areas. Bhutanese leave their villages to seek out a better life in towns as well. Young people are less interested in agriculture and are eager to embrace education and employment opportunities. Rural areas are emptying out. The elderly, aged over 65, are being left behind. Most head to Thimphu, Phuentsholing, and Paro who are in the age groups 25 to 29 years. Improving rural conditions should be a high priority for the government.

The top reason for migration is employment. Others are education, training, and marriage. Government must devise effective policies to generate employment in the urban sector. Infrastructure should be adequate with strategic town planning initiatives. The government could also shift some government services to other smaller towns and Dzongkhag capitals. The new generation with technological interests are moving to towns in droves and will be likely more disconnected from nature and religion than the previous generation.

As of 2017, 48.7% of the population of rural areas had migrated to towns in search of education, jobs, and a more modern lifestyle. If the rate of migration increases, Bhutan will have to more than double the amount of land available for urban expansion to have adequate housing to accommodate the influx. We should also expand sanitation facilities, electrical infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, public transport, and education facilities.

In Bhutan, rural to urban migration, which was once considered, the most concerning migration pattern stands lower than rural-rural migration. Challenges and opportunities lie in dealing with the negative effects of rural depopulation and improving urban sectors.