Joe Frem, Vineet Rajadhyaksha, Jonathan Woetzel – McKinsey’s Dubai and Shanghai offices.
The world faces unprecedented rates of urban expansion. According to the United Nations, 55 percent of the global population currently lives in cities. By 2050, that number is expected to reach 68 percent, which means an additional 2.5 billion people will reside in urban areas. China’s cities alone will be home to a staggering 900 million people.
Although cities may appear to be in a state of continuous expansion, their population growth has historically occurred in cycles. Innovations have generally addressed the challenges posed by rising populations, only to be replaced by new hurdles. For example, the early 20th century invention of the automobile has addressed some of the difficulties associated with long commutes. However, as cities are increasingly designed to accommodate cars instead of people, sedentary lifestyles have become common and health issues proliferate.