The single most important demographic trend over the last century has been the rapid urbanization of the world. Just as recently as 1950, less than 30% of the total population lived in cities.
By the year 2030? It is expected that 60% of the world will be urbanized.
Highly developed countries already heavily rely on cities. People living in the United States (81%), Canada (82%), Australia (89%), or Germany (75%) mainly reside in urban areas, and there’s good reason for it. Take a look at this 3d map showing GDP contribution by city in the United States and you will notice that places like New York or Los Angeles have massive contributions to economic production. In fact, an impressive 52% of total economic output in the U.S. comes from the top 20 urban areas in the country.
This is true throughout the rest of the world as well. According to McKinsey, the world’s 600 largest cities generate 60% of all economic output. It is this great economic opportunity that is driving people from their farms to the newest urban centers. Specifically, it is in Africa and Asia that the world’s fastest growing cities can be found.
Countries such as China and India are at the forefront of this rapid development. New citizens are joining Delhi at a rate of 79 people per hour, while Shanghai continues to welcome 51 new citizens an hour. Africa will look very different than it has in the past as well. The World Economic Forum pointed out that in 1960 that Johannesburg was the only city in sub-Saharan Africa to have more than 1 million people. Fifty years later, there are 33 cities with more than 1 million in the region.