Urbanization of Iraq
The process of urbanization was also hastened by the growing commercial activity in the cities, which resulted from the rise of the oil industry. During the economic boom of the 1970s wages in the city were double those in rural areas. In order to prevent the countryside from being depopulated, oil revenues were, in the 1970s, invested heavily in rural infrastructure (education, health care, electrical power, roads, etc.).
Migration to the cities had far-reaching consequences for the labour force. In 1920 three-quarters of the labour force worked in agriculture. In the mid-1950s this percentage had fallen to half and, by the beginning of the 1990s, to one-third. About half were now employed in industry, construction, and mining, and about 40 percent in the fast-growing service sector. Participation by women in education and labour also grew during the years of strong economic growth. By 1985 women made up 19 percent of the working population, an extremely high percentage in the Islamic/Arab world. This figure does not include women in rural areas, who traditionally play an important part in agriculture. Because of the dramatic economic consequences of the wars with Iran and in Kuwait, economic and social development largely came to a halt.
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