McKinsey: Major growth in number of megacities worldwide

16 January 2012

Strategy consulting firm McKinsey & Company has done research into trends and aspects of megacities worldwide. A city is perceived a megacity if it has a population of over 10 million inhabitants. Worldwide there are 23 megacities. Asia had eleven megacities, and also the seven biggest (Tokyo, Mumbai, Shanghai, Beijing, Delhi, Kolkata and Dhaka). North and South America have five of the megacities (São Paulo, Mexico City, New York, Los Angeles and Buenos Aires), Africa has three (Kinshasa, Lagos and Cairo) en Europe only one (London). Tokyo is the biggest city in the world with 36 million inhabitants.

Tokyo Japan - McKinsey

Growth and migration

In 1975 there were only three cities in the world with more than 10 million inhabitants: New York, Mexico City and Tokyo. Both the number of megacities and their size have strongly increased over the years. Tokyo, which had already a population of 1 million by the end of the eighteenth century, experienced especially after World War II a population explosion. 12 million people live in the city itself, but the city is triple its size including the suburbs Kawasaki and Yokohama.

In 2008, it was for the first time in history that more people lived in the city than in rural areas. The strong wave of immigration to cities, in only Asia already 45 million people a year, will continue in the coming years, resulting in as many as three-quarters of all people living in a city by 2050. It should be noted, however, that most people who come from the countryside will settle in medium-sized cities. McKinsey has surveyed that about 20% of the world's population lives in just 600 cities, and generates 50% of the global GDP.

Good living conditions

The living conditions in (mega) cities are not as bad as is said sometimes. Megacities like Tokyo, Seoul and Shanghai scored well in terms of liveability in the survey done by McKinsey. According to the consulting firm, densely populated cities are more creative, dynamic and environmentally friendly than most suburbs. Also art and technology are better expressed in big cities than elsewhere. Cities bring out the best in people, according to McKinsey.


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