Over the recent past, the prevailing socio-economic trends in Australia have resulted in a reversal of the long-term trend towards suburbanisation. There is new housing and retailing and many other important developments in the inner parts of city areas with a rapid growth of the area beyond the city fridge.
These changes can be attributed to the social as well as the economic factors. Australia is one of the countries in the world where the majority of the people live in the urban areas (Britannica 2011: par 2). This proportion has been increasing while the proportion of the population living in the rural areas has been decreasing.
As already noted, there is a significant change in the suburbanisation in Australia. There are several factors which have led to changes in this pattern.
One of the main causes of these changes is economic restructuring which has been taking place over the recent past (Randolph and Holloway 2004: 3). These changes have had a lot of impact on the Australian cities. Over the recent past, most of the cities in Australia have experienced a high rate of maturity from immigration and natural growth pressure. This has significantly contributed to the changes in the previous trend in suburbanization. The changes in employment structure have also played a pivotal role in changes in these trends.
Currently, employment is more dispersed unlike in earlier times when it was concentrated in the city centres. According to Randolph and Holloway (2004), bifurcating of skills and rewards base has significantly changed the nature of the developments in the city (3). Through technological developments, skills have significantly changed from the past.
The changes in the government policies have also contributed to the change in the suburbanisation trends. Over the past, the government education, labour market and health welfare encouraged social polarization (Randolph and Holloway 2004: 4). The wealthier suburbs attracted more welfare benefits and other benefits than the poorer suburbs.
However, these policies have significantly changed. The government has encouraged the availability of these welfare services and benefits to all the people. This has attracted settlement in areas far away from the city because these services are now accessible to these areas. For instance, most of the social amenities are now available to all other people despite of where they are located.
The communication networks in Australia have developed to a greater extent. In most cases, people tend to locate in places which are near to their working place. Therefore, many people tended to locate in the areas around the city so that they can access their workplace easily in the city centre.
Through development in transportation networks, many people can now be able to access their work places in the city easily even when they locate areas far away from the city centre. As a result, many people are now tending to locate in areas far away from the city where there is no congestion.
The emergence of new cultural and gender divisions is another factor which led to changes in the suburbanization process (xxx: 5). These changes triggered the demographic as well as economic changes in Australia. As a result of these changes, there was addition of other layers in the urban restructuring process which has a significant impact on polarization process (xxx: 5).
It has also been realized that the middle class in the inner part of cities are being eliminated as a result of increased costs in these areas. In other words, there are changes in settlement as people tend to move in places where they can minimize on their expenditure.
Another cause of the changes in this process is the process technological development. As a result of technological developments, many people are now able to work online from home without necessarily presenting themselves physically in the workplace. For instance, employees can now be able to communicate with each other through teleconferencing.
Since they don’t need to move to the workplace daily, these people tend to locate far away from the city where there is no congestion and houses are cheaper. This is another possible reason which could have led to the rapid development in the areas away from the city.
The dispersal of employment also played a role in changing the trends in suburbanization (Flew 2010: 10). Currently, most of the jobs which have earlier been concentrated in the city have been dispersed evenly to other parts outside the city.
Over the past, the city centres have been the main concentration of all kinds of jobs. This is because most of the industries and government institutions had been concentrated in cities. As a result, more people tended to concentrate in the areas around the city.
But through the spreading of such services and industries, employment is no longer concentrated in these areas. Government institutions and other industries are now available outside the city centres. According to the previous studies, a significant proportion of the Australian creative industries workers work and lived outside of the inner city (Flew 2010: 11).
Another economic factor which has led to the reverse in the suburbanisation trends is the housing costs. In most cases, houses near to the city are more expensive than the houses located far away from the city. Randolph and Holloway (2005) stated that
The most important social trend is one through which the original population that moved into these areas, then on the fringes of the city, in the 30 years from 1945 is now being replaced by households for whom the area offers a more affordable housing alternative to the high-value, gentrified inner suburbs on the one hand and the increasingly unaffordable, “aspirational,” middle- income new urban fringe on the other. (52).
A significant proportion of the population has tended to seek for cheaper housing. This has attracted more developments in the areas far away from the city. According to Randolph and Holloway (2005), most of the middle suburbs in Australia are now occupied by aged people who acquired it in olden days (63). As a result, the new population is occupying the areas away from the city. This is another factor which has contributed to changes in the suburbanization trends.
As the population of the people far away outside the city centre increases, firms tend to relocate to these areas to access cheaper labour in these areas as well as provision of services to the population in the region.
In other words, firms tend to minimize their operational costs by locating near to their market and source of labour hence maximizing their profits. As a result, this triggered further developments in the areas.
As Mieszkowski and Mills (1993) noted, most of the employers in America became suburbanized after which their employees followed them in these suburbs (136). Similarly, the same case happened in Australia. As firms relocated outside the city centres, most of the employees followed their respective employers in these areas.
Social and Economic Risks Of the New Suburbanization Trends
There are several risks which are associated with the new suburbanization trends. One of the main risks is environmental degradation. Through growth and developments in the ex-urban areas, a lot of vegetation gets destroyed.
This poses a great threat to the environment. For instance there was a vast species of vegetation at Hobagrt before the expansion of the city in these areas (O’Shea & Kirkpatrick, 2000; 243). However, through development in the areas outside the suburbs, a significant proportion of the indigenous vegetation has been destroyed.
A large proportion of native vegetation has been replaced with artificial flower gardens. As more people settles in the areas far away from the city centre, firms will tend to relocate in these areas in order to get near their market and where they can afford cheaper labour at the same time.
Some of these firms are involved in production processes which contribute to environmental pollution. Again, this poses a big problem to the environment. In terms of social impact, the development in the urban areas poses a great risk to the sociolinguistic aspects in the society (Childs 2011: 1).
Another risk associated with these new trends is that the real estates are causing the agricultural land to shrink. This poses a big problem to the agricultural sector. Significant area of land has been used for city expansion. This is despite of the significance of agriculture to the Australian economy.
Advantages of the New Trends
One of the main advantages of the new trends is that they have helped in reduction of the level of congestion within the city. Through the development of the areas around the city, some residents are now moving from the highly populated areas of the city to areas far away from the city.
This process has therefore helped in solving the problem of congestion. In most cases, crimes are relatively high in congested areas. According to Romero (2011), the congestion in the city can significantly contribute to increase in crimes (par 5). The new processes are therefore contributing to reducing the level of crime in the country in one way or another.
Another advantage of these processes is that the processes help in creation of jobs to the local community. As already noted, many firms have moved to the areas outside the city centres. This has helped in employment generation. People are also able to access services provided by these firms without necessarily having to travel to the city centres. As a result of these developments, the living standard of the people living in the areas around these places has significantly improved.
In conclusion, this discussion has clearly shown that the recent changes in the suburbanisation can be attributed to the social and economic factors. These factors have led to the change in the long run trend of the Suburbanization process. Over the past, most people were attracted to areas around the city by the jobs which were concentrated in the city centres.
Therefore they tended to locate near the city so that they can minimize the cost and the time of commuting. However, employment has become more dispersed to other parts outside the city. Consequently, the rate of people attracted by jobs in the city centres has dropped. As a result, the areas far away from the city have now begun to develop.
It has also been seen that the government has been struggling to spread the social benefits and welfare to other parts outside the city. Therefore, people have managed to access these services despite of the places they are located. This has also contributed to development of the areas far away from the city. These changes can significantly help in reducing the level of congestion in the city.
Britannica. 2011. Australia; Urban Settlement [Online]. Available at: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/43654/Australia/228695/Urban-settlement [Accessed 1st June 2011].
Childs, B. 2011. The effect of urbanization and social orientation: Locally Salient Variables as indicators of linguistic change. Coastal Carolina University.
Flew, T. 2010. Globalization and Suburbanization [Online]. Available at: http://www.slideshare.net/tflew/cuc-creative-china-9-oct-flew [Accessed 1st June 2011].
Mieszkowski, P. and Mills, E. The causes of Metropolitan Suburbanization. Journal of Economic Perspectives; Vol. 7. No. 3 summer. 1993. pp 135-147.
O’Shea, E. and Kipkpatrick, J. 2000. The impact of Suburbanization on remnant coastal vegetation in Hobart, Tasmania. Applied Vegetation science 3: 243-252.
Randolph, B. and Holloway, D. 2005. The Suburbanization of Disadvantage in Sydney: New problems, new policies. An international Journal of Suburban and Metropolitan Studies: Vol. 1: 1. Article 6.
Romero, S. 5 May 2011. Colombia’s Resurgent Capital Backslides amid Crime and Congestion [Online]. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/06/world/americas/06bogota.html?_r=1 [Accessed 1st June 2011].