Essay response – IELTS Task 2 question seen in the UK and UAE in March 2011

(This question taken from

The quality of life in big cities is worsening.  What do you think the reasons are?  What can you suggest as a solution?

Today, the world’s biggest cities continue to swell in size as increasingly more people are choosing to migrate towards an urban lifestyle.  Often the drawbacks of this phenomenon include the worsening of the overall quality of life found there.  It is proposed that when cities grow rapidly in size their infrastructures often cannot keep up thus causing a noticeable drop in life quality for certain parts of the city.  Using the larger cities of China as examples, the effectiveness of migration control and public transit will be analyzed.

As the economic hub of China, Shanghai has long tackled the problem of over-migration using strict migration laws, called ‘hu kou’.  ‘Hu kou’ dictates a series of restrictions that a migrant must abide to when working or living in a region that is not their own.  For example, migrant children who travel to Shanghai with their parents do not receive any medical coverage or education funding from the government.  As can be expected, the hu kou laws are very effective in keeping Shanghai’s migration rates down and quality of life up.  Thus, migration laws are argued to be an effective solution to the falling lifestyle levels of cities around the world.

In addition to this, a comprehensive public transit system can do wonders for a city’s quality of life.  For instance, prior to the Beijing Olympics, congestion was a major problem in China’s capital.  With the construction of new subway and bus lines, Beijing became a much more comfortable place to travel around in.  Although at first this may appear to be an insignificant change, to the people that experience Beijing transit everyday this development did a lot for their daily stress levels, and thus can be seen as an effective boost to the quality of life within the city.
After analyzing how migration laws and improved transit have helped improve the quality of life experienced in Chinese cities, it is felt these methods could also be effectively applied to other cities in the world.  It is expected that life quality in the metropolises of the globe will remain high so long as infrastructure maintains pace with growth.

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