The World System Urbanization Dynamics: A Quantitative Analysis
HISTORY & MATHEMATICS: HISTORICAL DYNAMICS AND DEVELOPMENT OF COMPLEX SOCIETIES, p. 44-62, Peter Turchin, Leonid Grinin, Victor C. de Munck, Andrey Korotayev, eds., Moscow: KomKniga/URSS, 2006
19 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2010
Date Written: November 5, 2006
One can single out in a rather distinct way three periods of relatively fast world urban population growth: (A1) the second half of the 4th millennium BCE – the first half of the 3rd millennium BCE, (A2) the 1st millennium BCE and (A3) the 19th-21st centuries CE. In addition to this, one can see two periods of relatively slow growth of the world urban population: (B1) the mid 3rd millennium BCE – the late 2nd millennium BCE and (B2) the 1st-18th centuries CE. Two other periods turn out to be essentially close to these epochs: Period (B0) immediately preceding the mid 4th millennium (when the world urban population did not grow simply because the cities had not appeared yet and no cities existed on the Earth), and Period (B3) that is expected to begin in the 22nd century, when, according to forecasts, the world urban population will stop again to grow in any significant way (in connection with the World System urbanization reaching the saturation level and the stabilization of the world population). The detected world urbanization dynamics correlates rather well with the dynamics of the World System political organization. Similar phase transitions appear to be observed with respect to the world literacy macrodynamics. Indeed, during Period A1 we observe the appearance of the first literate people whose proportion had reached the level of decimals of one per cent by the end of this period and fluctuated at this level during Period В1. During Period А2. world literacy grew by an order of magnitude and reached the level of several per cent of the total population of the world, it fluctuated at this level during Period B2 till the late 18th century when Period A3 started; during this period the world literacy has reached the level of dozens per cent, and by the beginning of Period B3 (presumably in the 22nd century) it is likely to stabilize at the 100% level. In fact, the above mentioned phase transitions can be regarded as different aspects of a series of unified phase transitions: Phase Transition A1 from medium complexity agrarian societies to complex agrarian ones, Phase Transition A2 from complex agrarian societies to supercomplex ones, and, finally, Phase Transition A3 from supercomplex agrarian societies to postindustrial ones (within this perspective, the period of industrial societies turns out to be a period of phase transition В2-В3).
Keywords: Urbanization, world system, cliodynamics, phase transitions, hyperbolic growth, political centralization
JEL Classification: A10, C00, E00, O00, R00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation