The rise of the megacity

by Ryan Streeter on August 28, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Any adult alive today has lived through a historic shift that has occurred without much fanfare: the movement to a majority-urban global population.

In 1800 only 5% of the world’s population lived in cities, and only one city – Beijing – had more than 1 million people.

What’s especially amazing is the rapid rise of the megacity, defined as a city with more than 10 million residents. In this interesting study by Kotkin, Cox, Modarres, and Renn, we learn:

Until recent decades there were only three (megacities) — Tokyo and New York, joined by a third, Mexico City, only in 1975. Now the megacity has become a global phenomenon that has dispersed around the planet. There were 29 such cities in 2014 and now account for roughly 13% of the world’s urban population and 7% of the world’s total population.