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close this bookThe Mega-city in Latin America (UNU, 1996, 282 pages)
close this folder2 Demographic trends in Latin America's metropolises, 1950-1990
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentChanging patterns of metropolitan growth
View the documentCauses of demographic change
View the documentThe spatial pattern of metropolitan growth
View the documentThe future of the Latin American metropolis
View the documentNotes
View the documentReferences

(introductory text...)

Miguel Villa and Jorge Rodríguez

This chapter describes the principal trends in the demographic evolution of Latin America's major cities between 1950 and 1990. It examines the pace of metropolitan growth, trends in migration and natural increase, the role played by the largest cities in their national urban systems, and changes in the pattern of growth within the wider metropolitan region. It also considers the extent to which these trends are likely to continue in the future.

The discussion focuses on cities with more than four million inhabitants in 1990 - Bogotá, Buenos Aires, Lima, Mexico City, Rio de Janeiro, Santiago, and São Paulo - although Caracas is also included because of its dominant role in the Venezuelan economy. In estimating the populations of these cities, we have immediately faced the problem of defining their boundaries. This has not been an easy task, given the huge doubts expressed in the literature about the meaning of the term "metropolis" (Aylwin, 1991). The task is not eased by the changing nature of metropolitan development in recent years, which we discuss in detail below. Nevertheless, we do not believe that many readers will find our delimitation of the major cities too problematic. Unlike the huge London, New York, and Tokyo agglomerations, most Latin American metropolises are still broadly recognizable as cities. Therefore, we have generally ended by accepting the latest definitions of the national census authorities; a list of the municipalities included in each metropolitan area appears as an appendix (PP. 43-4).