Global Perspective: Rapid urbanisation and young, growing populations put pressure on emerging markets to solve housing deficits
24 Jun 2019
Urbanisation is a mega-trend redefining contemporary life in both developed and emerging markets across the globe. This mass rural-to-urban movement of people and expansion of cities to absorb formerly isolated villages is a relatively recent phenomenon, at least in the developing world.
According to the UN, in 1950 only 751m people lived in urban areas, however by 2018 this number had risen to 4.2bn, equivalent to roughly 55% of the world’s population. By 2050 the UN estimates that this figure will rise to 68%. This growth will not be distributed evenly, but rather disproportionately concentrated in the developing world, with high rates of population growth and urban expansion in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia. China, India and Nigeria alone are expected to account for 35% of the urban population growth between 2018 and 2050. Against this backdrop, municipal, state and national governments are under growing pressure to deliver a combination of safety, security, wealth and opportunity for their urban citizenry.
While urbanisation is closely tied to economic development, social mobility and poverty eradication, the massive influx of urban migrants poses
serious challenges for governments and companies. One of the central issues confronting policymakers across developing economies concerns the lack of affordable, high-quality housing. For the UN, access to affordable and sustainable housing forms the centrepiece of its New Urban Agenda, adopted in October 2016. In the years ahead, failure to adequately meet rising demand for affordable urban housing could constrain growth and hinder the
achievement of development objectives, exacerbate income inequality and further inflame existing social tensions across developing economies.