The surprises in the urbanization numbers

The surprises in the urbanization numbers

Which parts of the country are urbanizing most rapidly? The 2011 census numbers show that Kerala’s urban population has gone up from 26% of its total population in 2001 to 47.7% in 2011, a growth of 21.7 percentage points. That’s the highest percentage difference between the urban populations of 2001 and 2011 for any state. The result is rather surprising, because Kerala hasn’t seen exceptionally high levels of industrialization or, indeed, of economic growth during the last decade.

Also See | Top 10 States With The Largest Increase In Urban Population (PDF)

Even more surprising is the growth of urbanization in Sikkim. The state’s urban population increased from 11.1% of the state population in 2001 to 24.97%, an increase of 13.9 percentage points. This can hardly be put down to the growth of industry in Sikkim. The increase in urban population for India as a whole has been just 3.4 percentage points between 2001 and 2011.

Consider the other states where the rise in urban population has been big. The top 10 states by this measure include, as the chart shows, such unlikely candidates as Nagaland, Manipur, Tripura. Is insurgency a cause for people flocking to urban areas in these states? What accounts for Kerala’s, or Goa’s, rapid rise in urbanization? Proximity to Delhi may account for the increase in urbanization in Haryana, while Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat may have seen a rise in industrialization. But we need to know the reasons for the big increase in urban population in the other states. Economic growth is unlikely to be the answer.

Graphic by Sandeep Bhatnagar/Mint

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