Future Hubs of Africa and Asia
On UN projections between 2015 and 2050, the world population will grow by nearly 2.38 billion people, from 7.35 billion to 9.73 billion. Although this 32% growth is a big increase, it marks a slowdown from the 66% growth rate recorded in the preceding 35 years (1980-2015). Total Fertility Rates (TFRs) have come down all over the world and are expected to continue falling.
About half of the 2.38 billion increase will take place in sub-Saharan Africa and nearly 40% in Asia. India is the biggest contributor with a net addition of 394 million, followed by Nigeria (216m), Pakistan (120m), DR Congo (118m) and Ethiopia (89m). By 2050, all of these countries will feature in the top 10 populations by size, a list that will include the United States (expected to rank fourth) but not one European country. Outside of Africa and Asia ex-China, regional populations will be growing slowly (the Americas), stagnating (China, Europe), or receding (Japan, Eastern Europe).
This demographic boom could, under the right conditions, result in a regional or even a global economic boom. These conditions are first and foremost 1) an increase in literacy and 2) an improvement in governance, in the poorest countries where the population is growing rapidly. Higher literacy, in particular among young women, sets off a chain reaction that drives down infant mortality rates and total fertility rates. In time, this evolution leads to a falling dependency ratio and creates an opportunity for the economy to realize a demographic dividend. This was in large part the dynamic that created the China boom in the past three decades.At the same time, the demographic center of gravity of the world will shift from North to South and from the richest to the poorest countries. This new center of gravity would lie in 2050 somewhere between Africa and South Asia, in theory somewhere in the Indian Ocean or in Eastern Africa or Western Asia.Just as Singapore and Hong Kong were large beneficiaries of expanded trade between China and the rest of the world, there will likely be a number of cities that will benefit from being at the nexus of the coming population boom if it happens to also translate into an economic boom. Some will gain by dint of their large size and thanks to their expanded infrastructure in air and maritime transport. Others may gain by becoming specialized hubs for services such as finance, technology or other....MORE