Perhaps the most striking consumer trend to emerge from the Global Cities 2030 study is the way in which the number of high-income Chinese consumers is set to leap ahead over the next two decades. Starting from a comparatively low base today, China will boast some 45 million urban households in 2030 with annual incomes in excess of $70,000, putting it well ahead of Europe and hot on the heels of North America. Shanghai will jump from a rank of 69th today to 8th for its number of high-income households in 2030.
New York and Tokyo will still be the dominant cities, but China will have competitors for London, Los Angeles and other major cities.
Chinese cities will be at the heart of a radical shift in the urban centre of economic gravity by 2030. Eight European cities will drop out of the global top 50 cities by GDP by 2030, while nine new Chinese cities will join that group, taking the Chinese total to 17. This total of 17 Chinese cites in world’s top 50 in 2030 is more than North America and four times more than Europe. China’s lesser-known mega cities such as Chengdu, Hangzhou and Wuhan will become as prominent in 2030, in economic terms, as Dallas and Seoul are today.
Driven by burgeoning urban populations and rapid labour productivity growth, this handful of huge Chinese cities is just the tip of the iceberg. The aggregate GDP of China’s largest 150 cities will overtake Europe’s 139 largest cities as early as 2015, and North America’s largest 58 cities in 2022.
Consumer spending in Chinese cities will expand from $2.8 trillion today to $9.6 trillion in 2030.
While the combined economies of Chinese cities will surpass the total of those in Europe and North America, that’s not the case for GDP per capita. “Gaps in living standards and wages—even in the fastest-growing emerging markets—will take decades to close,” the report warns.
For example, it will take 24 years for Beijing residents to reach the GDP per-capita level of those living in New York today, it predicts. Even more striking is the time lag facing those living in New Delhi—50 years to reach New York levels—and in Lagos, Nigeria, 150 years to get there.