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March 13, 2011

The Future of The Big Cities

According to the statistics, nearly 50.5% of the world’s population is urbanized, compared to a mere 5% just a century ago. More than ever, the world’s urban centers are drawing a crowd of sophisticated city dwellers with some measure of disposable income. These citysumers are spending their disposable income on urban-centered goods, services, and experiences.

What’s behind this trend? There are three factors contributing to mass urbanization:

1.    The sheer increase of the number of city dwellers around the world;

2.    The increasing wealth and power of cities and the populations that live in them;

3.     The spread of urban culture and values.

Need it in numbers to believe it? Close to 180,000 people flock to make their homes in cities each day, adding roughly 60 million new urban dwellers annually. If these trends continue, the global urban population is expected to reach 6.3 billion in 2050, or 70% of the world’s population at that time. By 2030, China will have 221 cities with more than 1 million people, and India will have 68.

Where in the World is Population Growth Exploding?

The majority of the urbanization going on in the world isn’t occurring in North America or Europe. The biggest growth is in Asia and Africa, both of which lay claim to the largest population growth centers in 2010:

Beihai, China, with a growth of over 10%;
Ghaziabad, India, with growth of 5.2%
Sana’a, Yemen, nearing growth of 5%;
Surat, India, which grew 4.99%;
Kabul, Afghanistan, with growth of 4.74%;
Bamako, Mali, growing at 4.45%;
Lagos, Nigeria, and Faridabad, India, both with growth of 4.44%;
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which saw growth of 4.39%;
Chittagong, Bangladesh, which grew 4.29%.

But vast growth doesn’t equal wealth and power – at least, not yet. The world’s richest cities are still centered in Europe and North America. Copenhagen, Zurich, and Geneva are the top three richest cities in the world, zooming to the top three from the top ten in 2009. The rest of the world’s richest cities are New York, Oslo, Los Angeles, Munich, Luxembourg, Frankfurt, and Dublin, respectively. The two American cities entered the top ten this year after being 11th (NYC) and 14th (LA) place in 2009.

By 2020, the largest urban areas will still mostly be located outside of North America and centered in Asia, with a few notable exceptions in South America. Tokyo, Japan is expected to lead the pack, with a population projected at 37.28 million. New York is the only city in North America to make the projected list, with a population estimate of 20.43 million.

The other top ten largest urban centers in 2020 are expected to be:

Mumbai, India (25.97 million)
Delhi, India (25.83 million)
Dhaka, Bangladesh (22.04 million)
Mexico City, Mexico (21.81 million)
Sao Paulo, Brazil (21.57 million)
Lagos, Nigeria (21.51 million)
Jakarta, Indonesia (20.77 million)
Karachi, Pakistan (18.94 million)

But with this shift in the world’s urban centers, will there also be a shift in the world’s concentration of riches? In other words, will Tokyo, Mumbai, and Delhi replace Copenhagen, Zurich, and Geneva in terms of wealth? In order for these up and coming urban centers to become rich and powerful, they need to hold the edge in terms of industry as well as sheer population numbers. The top three cities in terms of wealth in 2010 are closely connected with the world’s banking industry – so if there is a shift and other cities in Asia supplant Europe in terms of banking power, there may well be a shift in terms of wealth as well.( source :Urbanomics)