Rapid urbanisation

  • What is the impact of this megatrend?
  • What are the potential implications for the future?
Capital at risk. The value of investments and the income from them can fall as well
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The rise of the mega city

In 1990 there were only 10 cities in the world with a
population exceeding 10 million –
the so-called ‘megacities’.

Today the number of worldwide megacities
has nearly tripled to 28.1
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The Impact

2 examples demonstrating
urbanisation

Perhaps somewhat ironically, as we become better connected, and the world becomes a smaller place, our populations are increasingly concentrating themselves in cities and large urban areas. This will further drive technological advancement and impact climate change, having its own influence on other megatrends.
1. There’s a massive migration to cities underway
Globally, more people live in urban than rural areas, and as the graph below shows, that trend looks set to continue. In 1950, 30% of the world’s population lived in urban areas, and that’s forecast to increase to 66% by 2050.2
Urban and rural population of the world, 1950-2050
2. Self-fulfilling prophecy
In the US, the patient-to-primary care physician ratio in rural areas is 39.8 physicians per 100,000 people, compared with 53.3 physicians per 100,000 in urban areas.3 This uneven distribution of physicians has proven to have an impact on the health of the population. With better healthcare outcomes likely, urban populations consequently grow faster than rural populations organically (without migration) as people are motivated to migrate towards them.

At the same time, urban areas tend to have better employment opportunities, better education and better access to social and cultural activities. This makes them more attractive places to live and makes it easier for businesses to flourish. In China, for example, the Urban per capita income is more than double the rural figure.4
100 cities in China with populations over 1 million
x2 by 2030
By 2030 – 2/3
the global population
will live in cities
Currently almost 50%2

The Outlook

5 implications of this megatrend

These large-scale shifts in population lead to both opportunities and challenges for society. The requirements of future urban populations will be remarkably different to the cities of today, with citizens demanding connectivity to everything – every device, every entity and every object. Wireless connectivity will be paramount to improving quality of life in cities.
Here is what else it could mean for urban life:
1. New infrastructure
Mass migration will mean the need for new infrastructure and services. Transport infrastructure and networks will require upgrades due to the dominance of autonomous vehicles and the greater concentration of people.
2. No car ownership
A lack of space and the rise of autonomous cars will mean fewer people will own a car, preferring to use ‘summon-able’ services instead.
3. Healthcare systems will have to change
As population density grows to unprecedented levels, existing healthcare systems will need to be radically overhauled to deal with this influx. Traditional hospitals will come under significant strain if they do not utilise new technologies available to them.
4. Personal security will be a focus
With higher crime rates in cities than rural areas, governments will employ elevated levels of surveillance on citizens in cities, increasing connectivity means that every activity is logged and monitored.
5. ‘Smart Cities’ emerge
Cities will emerge, driven by modern urban populations that embrace technology to improve the efficiency of infrastructure and services.
More than half of the world’s
population now lives in towns and
cities, and by 2030 this number will
swell to about 5 billion. Much of this
urbanization will unfold in Africa and
Asia, bringing huge social, economic
and environmental transformations.
UNITED NATIONS POPULATIONS FUND (UNFPA)5

View the fund range

Click the icons for more information and key risks of each fund

  • Ageing Population

  • Agribusiness

  • Automation & Robotics

  • Digital Security

  • Digitalisation

  • EM Consumer Growth

  • Clean Energy

  • Global Timber & Forestry

  • Global Water

  • Healthcare Innovation

  • Inclusion & Diversity

  • Fintech

  • Future of Transport

  • Next Generation Technology

  • New Energy

This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product or to adopt any investment strategy.

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