, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 119-136

Southeast Asian urbanization and the growth of mega-urban regions

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Southeast Asia has not been sufficiently urbanized long enough to have developed a real urban proletariat, yet it has been profoundly affected by urbanization. An important development has been the emergence of extended metropolitan regions, which now contain about 11 per cent of Southeast Asia’s population. In studying the dynamics of growth of these extended regions, it is important to designate zones around the official metropolitan areas. When this is done for the Southeast Asian mega-urban regions, they are the zones immediately outside the metropolitan area where urban expansion is marked, in-migration greatest, and occupational change most rapid. A corollary of this is that the conclusion frequently drawn that Asian big-city growth is slowing is misleading, because studies usually fail to include the rapidly-growing areas outside metropolitan boundaries. Trends over the 1990–2000 period for Jakarta and Bangkok illustrate the point. Realistic appraisal of the planning needs of Southeast Asia’s mega-urban regions requires integrated research on the broader metropolitan region surrounding the metropolis proper.