World Statistics Day: A Look at Urbanisation

To mark World Statistics Day on 20 October 2010, Cities Alliance has compiled a list of statistics on cities, urbanisation and slums:

  • Largest city: Karachi, Pakistan is the world’s largest city with a population of 15.5 million in 2010. Shanghai, China is second with 14.9 million, followed by Mumbai, India with 13.9 million. (CityMayors)
  • Quality of life: Vienna, Austria offers the best quality of life, according to the Quality of Living Survey by Mercer Consulting. The Swiss cities of Zurich and Geneva rank second and third, respectively. (CityMayors)
  • Most expensive: Luanda, Angola is the most expensive big city in the world, according to Mercer’s Cost of Living Survey for 2010. Tokyo, Japan and Ndjamena, Chad rank second. This year’s survey of the world’s most expensive cities includes ten from Africa. (CityMayors)
  • Liveability: The three most liveable cities in the world are, in order: Vancouver, Canada; Vienna, Austria; and Melbourne, Australia, according to a 2010 liveability survey by the London-based Economist Intelligent Survey (EIU). At the bottom of the list are Algiers, Algeria; Dhaka, Bangladesh; and Harare, Zimbabwe. (CityMayors)
  • Thriving after the global downturn: New York City is faring well in comparison to other global cities following the economic downturn of 2008, according to the Cities of Opportunity report from Price-Waterhouse Cooper. Along with London, Paris and Tokyo, New York dominates the report index in “power” indicators such as economic clout, intellectual capacity, technology and innovation, and lifestyle assets. (CityMayors)
  • The iPod index: An average wage-earner in New York City or Zurich, Switzerland can buy an 8 GB Apple iPod Nano after nine hours of work. In contrast, it takes an average wage-earner in Mumbai, India 177 hours – nearly a month’s salary – to buy the same  iPod. (CityMayors)

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  • For the first time in history, more than half of the world’s people live in cities.
  • Nearly two billion new urban residents are expected in the next twenty years.
  • Over 90 per cent of urban growth is occurring in developing countries, which add an estimated 70 million new urban residents each year.
  • By 2030 all developing regions, including Asia and Africa, will have more people living in urban than rural areas.
  • The urban population of the world’s two poorest regions, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, is expected to double over the next 20 years.
  • Cities account for some 70 per cent of global GDP.
  • No country has grown to middle-income status without industrialising and urbanising.
  • In Latin American cities, poor or inadequate infrastructure is estimated to have reduced urban economic output by 10 to 15 per cent.
  •  In China, 50 per cent of GDP is generated in coastal urban areas, which represent 20 per cent of the country’s territory.
  • Rural-to-urban migration is just one of the three drivers of urbanisation, accounting for about 25 per cent of urban population growth. The other two factors are natural population increases and the reclassification of rural areas into urban ones. (Commission of Growth and Development, 2009)
  • Youth are 40 per cent more likely than older generations to move from rural to urban areas or across urban areas. (UN-HABITAT)
(Source: The World Bank’s World Development Report 2009)

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  • Around one-third of the urban population in developing countries – nearly one billion people – lives in slums, according to estimates.
  • UN-Habitat estimates the world’s slum population will be 889 million by 2010.
  • Between 2000 and 2010, the number of slum dwellers increased by six million every year.
  • More than 70 per cent of Africa’s urban population lives in slums.
  • The majority of slum dwellers in African cities are between the ages of 15 and 24.
  • Slums are often economically vibrant; today, about 85 per cent of all new employment opportunities around the world occur in the informal economy.
  •  Although there are more men than women in the workforce, women make up 60 to 80 per cent of the informal workforce in developing countries. (ILO)
  • More than 50 per cent of the urban population in South Asia, and 40 per cent in Sub-Saharan Africa, lack access to sanitation services.
  • There is one toilet for every 500 people in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya.

Millennium Development Goal 7, Target 11:

  • 2010 is the halfway point towards the deadline for the “slum target” of the Millennium Development Goals (by 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers).
  •  Between 2000 and 2010, 227 million people in the developing world will have been lifted out of slum conditions; 74 per cent were in Asia, primarily China and India.
  • The number of slum dwellers is estimated to grow by nearly 500 million between now and 2020, according to UN-HABITAT.
  • Countries farthest from reaching the MDG target on slums are mainly in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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