- New Horizons in Regional Science series
Edited by Peter Nijkamp, Jacques Poot and Mediha Sahin
Chapter 5: A socio-economic impact analysis of urban cultural diversity: pathways and horizons
Cities are dynamic centres of human activity due to their centripetal and centrifugal agglomeration forces. They are also the geographical landmarks of human mobility, in particular migration (be it temporary or structural). Migration is one of the most studied subjects in the social and behavioural sciences (for example demography, sociology, geography, economics). Several academics speak nowadays of the ‘age of migration’, and this suggests that mankind is structurally ‘on the move’. But it ought to be recognized that, since the early history of mankind people have always exhibited nomadic behaviour. Urban settlement patterns with mass population concentrations have only been a predominant geographical phenomenon in the past few thousand years. Clearly, exogenous shocks (such as wars, natural disasters or famine) might temporarily create an intensified tendency towards geographical mobility, population spread and migration. This forms a contrast with the present, where migration is increasingly an endogenous response to normal market conditions, a phenomenon that is strongly co-determined by our open and globalizing economy, with free movement of labour (as in the EU). Europe has displayed a number of interesting demographic trends over the past centuries: in the year 1900, Europe still had a share in the world population of about 20 per cent; this share went down to some 10 per cent in the year 2000, and it will most likely be no more than 5 per cent by the end of this century.
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