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Impact of Internal Migration and Urbanization in Developing Countries

Yu Zhu (Fujian Normal University / Shanghai University)
Martin Bell (The University of Queensland)
Sabine Henry (University of Namur)
Michael White (Brown University)
Council Liaison 
David Lam (University of Michigan)
IUSSP Secretariat 
Paul Monet (International Union for the Scientific Study of Population (IUSSP))
Terms of Reference: 

The 21st century will see a continuation of the interrelated processes of rapid urban expansion and massive internal migration taking place in the developing countries. According to UN’s new projection, virtually all of the expected population growth of the world before 2050 will be concentrated in urban areas of developing countries; at the same time, internal migration continues to be one of the major components of urban growth and socioeconomic transformation, and a central mechanism for population redistribution, in these countries. These processes are by no means a simple repetition of the past experience of developed countries; they have been unfolding in the new context of blurred rural-urban distinction and rising environmental concerns, involve multi-directional migration streams and an unprecedented scale of the relocation of people and the growth of the urban population, take place in new forms and increasing complexity, and produce massive but diverse demographic, social, economic and environmental consequences in both urban and rural areas. All this deserves careful examination through concerted efforts of demographers and scholars in related fields.


In the last decade, various efforts have been made to examine the above processes and the related issues. Progress has been made in several areas, including the better measurement and understanding of urban population dynamics, and the estimation and projection of urban and city populations achieved by past IUSSP panels. However, further efforts are still needed for better understanding of the increasing complexity of human mobility and new forms of urbanization, and their measurement and international comparison. More importantly, so far our understanding about the impacts of internal migration and urbanization, especially the diversity of impacts resulting from the new and complex patterns and processes of internal migration and urbanization in developing countries, remain insufficient. Such understanding is not only of important academic interest, but also of great practical significance, as it is crucial in policy making relating to strategies of economic development and its spatial planning, infrastructure and service provision, social adjustment and protection of rural-urban migrants, and environmental sustainability, in both rural and urban areas.


This Scientific Panel seeks to contribute to this area by organizing various meeting and activities, particularly the following two seminars, to address relevant issues.


International Seminar on Internal Migration and Urbanization and their Socioeconomic Impacts in Developing Countries: Challenges and Policy Responses.

Fuzhou, China, 10-12 December 2011. 

A selection of papers from the seminar has been published in Asian Population Studies, Volume 9, Issue 2, 2013.