Think Shanghai is crowded now? Just wait another decade or so.
Data suggests that by the end of 2050, the planet’s total population could exceed 10 billion people. While this sort of growth is not unexpected, new concerns are being brought to light about where these additional 3 billion people will be living.
Currently, Tokyo takes the number one seat in global city population rankings, coming in at a whopping 38 million people. However, according to the United Nations World Urbanization Prospects, it won’t be long until other cities begin to catch up, somewhat, including our own fair city. The ten biggest cities in 2030 are expected to be:
10) Mexico City, Mexico: 23.9 million people
9) Lagos, Nigeria: 24.2 million people
8) Cairo, Egypt: 24.5 million people
7) Karachi, Pakistan: 24.8 million people
6) Dhaka, Bangladesh: 27.4 million people
5) Beijing, China: 27.7 million people
4) Mumbai, India: 27.8 million people
3) Shanghai, China: 30.8 million people
2) Delhi, India: 36.1 million people
1) Tokyo, Japan: 37.2 million people
One notable feature of the above list: not a single North American or European city made the cut. In examining these staggering numbers, it is not hard to see why cities such as Shanghai, coming in at #3, are looking for ways to curb their population growth.
As of the end of 2014, temporary resident permit and hukou (household registration) holders in Shanghai numbered 24.3 million. Yet it’s believed that if you include unregistered migrant workers, the city’s total population is already more like 30 million.
Within the last five years, government officials have launched initiatives to cap Shanghai’s population at 25 million. This process will involve more stringent migration policies, a crackdown on unregistered migrant workers, and more progressive suburban development.
While overpopulation will continue to be one of the hottest issues of the 21st century, luckily for China, the worst of it will likely be over by 2030. The country’s population is expected to peak at 1.45 billion by the end of the 2020s, and then fall. These statistical projections, paired with government initiatives to disperse city residents to less populated areas, may challenge Shanghai’s status as one of the world’s most populous cities as other contenders rise up the ranks.
By Emma Abrams
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