Urbanized areas are often perceived as ‘bundles of service’ for the citizens (Gory et al 1985, Insch & Florek 2010, cited in Bialowolska 2016) since the needs and wants of them are aligned with the operation systems of the cities. There are some general problems resulting from urbanization such as air pollution, climate risks to health, population density, and risks of road transportation (Revich 2018). However, despite all these factors, the metropolis areas still remain desirable as a place to live since the government supports the strategic plan for improved QoL in cities (ADB 2021). It is expected that by 2050 the urbanization rate in Asia would reach over 64 percent and that of the world would move past 68 percent even under the impact of Covid-19 (Asian Development Bank 2021; UN 2018). This prediction shows that although the metropolitan areas do have various problems; nevertheless, they remain desirable for residents since there are many other quality of life indicators that they encompass.
This paper opposes the claim that large metropolitan cities are fast losing their appeal as a preferred living environment. Instead, it aims to support the fact that rapid urbanization rates are due to the improvement in quality of life and cities are not being perceived as less appealing. First, this work will embark on relevant literature review which will explain the term Quality of Life (QoL), its importance in urbanization, and list the standard indicators of QoL. Later on, the justification process will encompass two relevant indicators: age and health with empirical examples and academic findings in order to prove this paper’s claim. Subsequently, a conclusion will be seen which summarize the overall competences of this work.
According to Karimi and Brazier (2016), the term Quality of Life (QoL) emerged in medical literature several decades ago, in the 1960s. Since then, many academic articles have embarked on this term; however, its definition has remained challenging to determine. Both authors stated that there are many approaches to define QoL, namely, human needs, phenomenological viewpoints, expectations, and subjective well-being.
From a subjective perception, QoL can be defined as an active cognitive judgement of an individual’s satisfaction with life or the perception of individuals on their life status regarding the culture and value systems in which they reside and in association with their “goals, expectations, standards and concerns” (p. 646, Karimi & Brazier 2016). On an objective point of view, QoL demonstrates ”an overall general well-being that comprises objective descriptors and subjective evaluations of physical, material, social, and emotional well-being together with the extent of personal development and purposeful activity, all weighted by a personal set of values” (p. 646, Karimi & Brazier 2016).
QoL has long been a determinant for migration or immigration which proves influences on the increase in population density in large metropolitan cities (Rappaport 2009). From the study of Rappaport (2009), US residents are the empirical examples as faster population growth is aligned with favorable weather characteristics such as warm winter and cool summer, vibrant landscapes fitting for relaxation like counties with ocean coasts, and high records in amenities consumption including restaurants and live performance venues.
QoL along with Health and Health-related Quality of Life (HRQoL) were used indistinguishably in past literature and even recent academic works (Karimi & Brazier 2016). In the same article (Karimi & Brazier 2016), whilst health was categorized to be only a dimension of QoL, in the context of HRQoL and QoL, there is a blurry borderline. Furthermore, the concept of QoL should not be integrated with the concept of living standard which is based on income and employment status (Carta et al 2012). Instead, the standard indicators of QoL should not only include these branches but also the environment, physical and mental health, education, recreation and leisure time, and community (Carta et al 2012).
Researches illustrate that younger generations such as generation Y and Z’s preference for urban life is not wearing off and that is not necessarily an adverse implication as they have a greener love for the cities (Voegeli 2020). In the study of Carta et al (2012), it was proven that young men live better in cities, while elderly men prefer rural areas and the perception of QoL level decreases with age, therefore, age has a major influence on how an individual perceives QoL. This work of Carta et al was in 2012, in which, their ‘young men’ participants represent the millennials generation (Gen Y) and the fact that this generation prefers living in the cities is also supported in a news article from Florida (2019). In that, he stated that young people are not only the driving force in increasing urbanization rate but they also favor urban life many more times than their predecessors of the same stages in life. This pattern will likely continue to emerge in two following generations: Gen Z and Gen Alpha as these individuals are more exposed to urbanization and advanced technology. These generations are and are becoming the most well-educated cohort in history thanks to the accessibility in education (Voegeli 2020). They have seen or been educated about events such as the economic crisis, climate change, global consumption of technology, and a lot more. Due to that, they embrace the welfare of the environment and community they thrive in more than previous generations (Voegeli 2020). All in all, while metropolitan cities remain a desirable place to live for younger generations, the future might not be so flooded in pollution, environment risks, and traffic risks as these individuals perceptions are more futuristic and green.
Physical and mental health
Studies have shown that the rate for health accessibility in urban or suburban areas are higher than in rural areas (Chen et al 2019). These health-related sources include primary care providers, specialist doctors, blogs, and magazines, and search engines. The limited access to specialists is due to the shortage in specialist healthcare providers in nonmetropolitan areas which resulted in lower coverage in healthcare facilities (Chen et al 2019). The author stated that rural residents have to travel twice or even thrice the distance for medical care compared to urban residents. Moreover, the restrained access to health literacy also brought about the lower access to mass media and scientific studies, which differ the rural residents’ health accessibility to those in metropolitan cities. This is due to the fact that people in nonmetropolitan areas experience less media coverage or the coverage does not always include their own communities (Grieco 2019). At the end of the day, health is one of many crucial domains in QoL (Karimi & Brazier 2016; Carta et al 2012; Eckt et al 2019) and without adequate access to healthcare literacy, individuals will adopt negative perception on QoL in the place they live. In this case, the coverage in healthcare provision in cities is one major factor to determine their QoL level.
Overall, assessment of age and health as two domains of QoL shows that urbanized areas still remain and will become a more desirable destination to live. Whilst there are some problems in large metropolitan cities as aforementioned, cohesively, the governments are also taking actions at conducting strategic plans to solve those issues in order to improve the over records of QoL in these problematic destinations. More than that, they are setting up goals and predictions to encompass over 10 billion inhabitants by 2050 (Voegeli 2020), in which over 68 percent in growth rate of urbanization is forecasted as mentioned above. Furthermore, the justification of age in perception for QoL also raises the never ending interest and love for living in the cities of young people. They are more accustomed to the opportunities regarding economic, technology, social, and professional aspects of urbanized destinations. Moreover, being granted the opportunity to access good education has allowed them to adopt a greener perception and love for the cities. Therefore, the metropolitan attractions will remain desirable to the younger generations and these individuals will become the major driving forces in urban greening, which, in the end, increase the level of QoL in cities. Regarding healthcare in the urbanized areas compared to other nonmetropolitan places, health coverage and literacy has been proven to be more prominent in metropolitan cities. The people in rural areas have constrained access to health services and information due to limited healthcare facilities and lower technology advancement. This cost them the lack of knowledge in healthcare and farther distances that they have to travel for specialist doctors. As a result, the residents of metropolitan cities are allowed faster healthcare services and higher health information accessibility, which contribute immensely to the level of QoL. Overall, urban areas remain appealing as a place to reside as they still encompass several advantageous QoL indicators.