MNN Galleries

10 challenges created by a population boom

By: Robynne Boyd on July 10, 2015, 4:50 p.m.
The Oxford Circus crossing in London

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

3 of 12

The urban magnet

For most of human history, people around the globe lived in rural areas. This changed with the Industrial Revolution, when cities became magnets. Today, more than 50 percent of world's people live in urban areas. "It's the largest wave of urban growth in history," according to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA). The lure is irresistible — the search for a better life. Metropolitan areas offer the possibility of a higher standard of living, more job opportunities, better education and lower death rates. They comprise 80 percent of the GNP. And while cities can offer a path out of gender and financial traps, they can also reinforce or magnify these problems.